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2010

Fitz Seminars: 2010

Presentations by short-listed candidates for the FitzPatrick Institute Senior Lecturer post - 6 September 2010

Date: Monday 6 September 2010
Time: 09h00 – 09h40
Venue: Niven Library, Percy FitzPatrick Institute, Upper Campus

The short-listed candidates for the FitzPatrick Institute Senior Lecturer post will each give a 30 minute presentation on the topic:

How do you envisage your research interests developing over the next five years and how will your plans and your expertise contribute to African ornithology at the PFP Institute?

This will be followed by 10 minutes for questions

09h00 – 09h40: Dr Arjun Amar

Presentations by short-listed candidates for the FitzPatrick Institute Senior Lecturer post - 31 August 2010

Date: Tuesday 31 August 2010
Time: 09h00 – 11h10
Venue: Niven Library, Percy FitzPatrick Institute, Upper Campus

The short-listed candidates for the FitzPatrick Institute Senior Lecturer post will each give a 30 minute presentation on the topic:

How do you envisage your research interests developing over the next five years and how will your plans and your expertise contribute to African ornithology at the PFP Institute?

This will be followed by 10 minutes for questions

09h00 – 09h40: Dr Sasha Dall
09h40 – 10h20: Dr Johan Lind
10h20 – 10h30: Break
10h30 – 11h10: Dr Rita Covas

50th Anniversary AGM presentations

Date: Wednesday 11 August 2010
Time: 09:00 – 13:00
Venue: Steenberg Golf Club
Time Topic Presenter
09:00 – 09:30 Fifty years of the Percy FitzPatrick Institute Phil Hockey
09:30 – 09:50 The conservation biology programme: genesis, growth and development Tim Crowe
09:50 – 10:15 Seabirds and the role of Southern Ocean research at the Fitztitute Peter Ryan
10:15 – 10:35 Taking the heat: Climate change and desert birds Andrew McKechnie
10:35 – 10:55

Comfort break

10:55 – 11:15 Termitaria: Chizarira’s islands of diversity Grant Joseph
11:15 – 11:35 Sex, lies and reproduction investments in Wandering Albatrosses Genevieve Jones
11:35 – 11:55 Waterbirds and avian influenza. Do we have a problem? > Mduduzi Ndlovu
11:55 – 12:15 Sea crows: the marine ecology of southern African cormorants Timothee Cook
12:15 – 12:35 Can seabirds benefit from Marine Protected Areas? A penguin’s perspective Lorien Pichegru
12:35 – 12:55 uPholi want forest? The plight of the Cape Parrot Steve Boyes
12:55 – 13:00

Closing

'Hunting without vision: tactile senses and foraging in kiwi and other probing' by Dr Susan Cunningham

Date: Tuesday, 8 June 2010
Time: 13:00
Venue: Niven Library, Zoology Building, UCT

Dr Susan Cunningham is a postdoctoral fellow at the Percy FitzPatrick Institute

Synopsis: The majority of birds rely heavily on visual information, both for foraging and in other aspects of their lives. Probing birds, however, target prey which are generally hidden from view. They must therefore rely on senses other than vision when foraging. Some probing birds are able to detect vibration and pressure cues from prey hidden within granular or aquatic substrates, using a sensory system known as ‘remote touch.’ This sense, alien to humans, is mediated by a tactile bill-tip organ, first described from the shorebird family Scolopacidae. During my research, I showed that the Scolopacid-type bill tip organ is also present in kiwi (Apterygidae), ibises (Threskiornithidae), and possibly some rail species (Rallidae). I used a combination of 3D microCT scanning and traditional anatomy and histology to compare bill-tip structure between these families. I also conducted foraging experiments with kiwi and ibises in captivity to confirm that their bill-tip organs were functional for remote touch. The Scolopacidae, Apterygidae, Threskiornithidae and Rallidae are not closely related; suggesting that convergent evolution of remote touch is favoured by a probe-foraging lifestyle. Wild kiwi are incredibly cryptic due to their nocturnal habits and forested habitat. Previous studies of these birds have therefore relied exclusively on sign, radio telemetry & mark-recapture data. I used direct focal observations of wild kiwi (obtained with infrared cameras) to document their behaviour patterns for the first time, and to make inferences about their sensory world.

Fitzpatrick Institute 50th Anniversary Seminar: 'Arms races through colour space: coevolution and the Cuckoo Finch' by Dr Claire Spottiswoode

Date: Wednesday 7 April
Time: 13:00 (Guests to be seated by 12:45)
Venue: Niven Library

Dr Claire Spottiswoode is a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge, UK & Research Associate of the FitzPatrick Institute, UCT.

Talk summary: Brood parasitic birds such as cuckoos are cheats that lay their eggs in the nests of other species, and exploit them to pay the costs of raising their young. Host species, in turn, have evolved defences against such cheats, such as rejecting foreign eggs from their nests, favouring parasitic counter-adaptations such as egg mimicry. The two parties can thus become locked in a coevolutionary struggle, each to stay one step ahead of the other, as parasites evolve ever better manipulation of their hosts, and hosts respond with ever more refined defences to evade parasitism. This talk will be about an African brood parasite, the Cuckoo Finch, whose hosts have evolved an intriguing defence against parasitism: laying eggs in a spectacular diversity of colours. The talk will investigate the evolution of such defensive polymorphisms in different host species, using visual modelling techniques to study egg colour and pattern through a bird's eye. It will show how this coevolutionary 'arms race' between parasite and hosts has led to remarkably rapid changes in egg appearance within the time scale of a human lifetime.

PhD Proposal: 'Conservation biology of Ludwig’s Bustard' by Jessica Shaw

Date: Tuesday, 16 March 2010
Time: 13:00 (Guests to be seated by 12:45)
Venue: Niven Library

Ms Jessica Shaw will defend her PhD proposal: 'Conservation biology of Ludwig’s Bustard' (Supervisors: Peter Ryan & Andrew Jenkins)

Synopsis: Ludwig’s Bustard Neotis ludwigii is near-endemic to southern Africa, and thought to be in decline because of mortality caused by collisions with overhead power lines. Ludwig’s Bustards are particularly susceptible to collision because they are large and heavy, and lack sufficient manoeuvrability to avoid unexpected obstacles. The extent of power lines within the range of this species is vast and expanding, and there is urgent need to quantify power line related mortality to assess the impacts that collisions are having at the population level. During this project I also aim to improve our understanding of movement patterns through satellite tracking and stable isotope analysis, and use visual fields analysis and a large scale line marking experiment to explore effective mitigation measures.

Conservation Biology MSc Project Presentations

Date: Friday 5 February
Time: 09:00 - 12:00
Venue: Niven Library

The 2009 CB students will be presenting their projects to the new CB class and interested members of the Fitz and Zoology on Friday, February 5 from 09h00.

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Vice-Chancellor's Open Lecture: "Mass Extinction of Species: Why We Should Care and What We Can Do About It" by Sir Norman Myers

Date: Wednesday 10 February
Time: 8:00 (Guests to be seated by 17:45)
Venue: Kramer Lecture Theatre 1 Wilfred and Jules Kramer Law Building Cross Campus Road Middle Campus Rondebosch

Dr Max Price, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Town (UCT) and the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology at UCT, invite you to attend the

VICE-CHANCELLOR’S OPEN LECTURE:

"Mass Extinction of Species: Why We Should Care and What We Can Do About It"

Presented by Sir Norman Myers
Fellow of the 21st Century School, Green College & the Said Business School, Oxford University

Sir Norman Myers is a Professor and Fellow of the 21st Century School, Green College and the Said Business School, Oxford University. He is an Adjunct Professor at Duke University and a Visiting Professor at the Universities of Vermont and Cape Town. He has undertaken research projects and policy appraisals for the World Bank, United Nations agencies, the White House, numerous foundations, the European Commission and OECD. He has advised leaders of the Brundtland Commission, the Rio Earth Summit, the International Conference on Population and Development, the World Food Summit, and the World Summit on Sustainable Development. In the late 1980s he originated the biodiversity hotspots thesis, which has since mobilised over $850 million for conservation. In 1998 he received a Queen’s Honour for ‘services to the global environment.’ In 2007, he was identified by Time Magazine as a Global Hero of the Environment, alongside Al Gore and David Attenborough. He has received the Volvo Environment Prize, the UNEP Sasakawa Environment Prize, and the prestigious Blue Planet Prize. These awards have recognized him as being the first to warn of mass extinction of species, the ecological fallout from tropical deforestation, environmental threats to security, ‘perverse’ subsidies, environmental refugees and the degradation of future evolution. He has published several hundred scientific papers and popular articles, plus 20 books including (2001) Perverse Subsidies: How Tax Dollars Undercut the Environment and the Economy; (2004) New Consumers: The Influence of Affluence on the Environment; (2005) The New Gaia Atlas of Planet Management; and (2008) The Citizen is Willing but Society Won’t Deliver: The Problem of Institutional Roadblocks.