Research Associates

Dr Lizanne Roxburgh

Dr Lizanne Roxburgh
BSc Hons (Pietermaritzburg) PhD (Ben-Gurion University, Israel)


Dr Lizanne Roxburgh received her PhD from Ben-Gurion University in Israel, where she investigated how a desert nectarivore, the Palestine sunbird, Nectarinia osea, coped with its water-rich but protein-poor nectar diet. Palestine sunbirds have remarkably low protein requirements, as do other nectarivores, and reabsorb significant quantities of urinary nitrogen in their hindgut. As a result they are able to excrete large proportions of their nitrogenous waste products as ammonia.

IMAGE: A pair of Chaplin's Barbets (Photo: Lizanne Roxburgh)A post-doctoral research project with Prof. Sue Nicolson at the University of Pretoria took Lizanne into the field in Zambia where she studied the dispersal of mistletoes by birds, and how patterns of mistletoe infection prevalence are influenced by bird preferences for different kinds of host trees.

Her post-doctoral research at the Fitztitute focused on the relationship between Zambian (or Chaplin’s) barbets (Lybius chaplini) and fig trees in Zambia. Chaplin’s barbet is a cavity-nesting spcies and a primary excavator – the main host trees being Fig trees. It is endemic to Zambia and has recently been uplisted to Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, based on her research. This hole-nesting species faces threats to its habitat mostly from fuelwood collection and agricultural expansion, and has lost a significant part of its range to urban sprawl and agriculture already. Lizanne is currently refining estimates of the species range and population size using species distribution modeling and is in the process of publishing the results of her research on nest site characteristics and ecology of this threatened species.

Lizanne has recently been appointed Editor-in-Chief of the journal Ostrich. She is now based in Malawi, where she is a committee member of the Wildlife and Environmental Society of Malawi, continues with bird-ringing and monitoring projects in Malawi and Zambia, works as a GIS consultant, and continues to pursue her research interests.

Research programmes

Rarity & Conservation of African Birds

Recent peer-reviewed publications


Roxburgh, L., McDougall, R. & Leonard, P. 2012. Thick-billed Weaver recovery and new atlas record for Zambia. Afring News 41:8-10.


Roxburgh, L. & Buchanan, G.M. 2010. Revising estimates of the Shoebill (Balaeniceps rex) population size in the Bangweulu Swamp, Zambia, through a combination of aerial surveys and habitat suitability modelling. Ostrich 81:25-30.