Growing up in Cape Town, Matthew spent numerous hours exploring and learning about the rich biodiversity that the Cape has to offer. This exploration of the local biodiversity sparked his interest in southern African birds. Matthew devoted many of his weekends to birdwatching and became a passionate birder. However, when he was given the opportunity to volunteer at the Two Oceans Aquarium, he started devoting more time and interest to marine ecosystems. At the aquarium, he developed an understanding of and fascination for marine life. Moreover, he was exposed to the problems and the dire need for conservation efforts in the marine world. Matthew then went on to study a BSc undergraduate and Honours degree in Biodiversity and Ecology at Stellenbosch University. His interest in marine ecosystems led him to complete his honours in 2018 looking at the temporal fluctuations in abundance of Caprella mutica in South Africa. However, during his undergraduate degree in 2017, Matthew conducted a study on the niche partitioning of waders on the mudflats of West Coast National Park. This project reignited his passion for studying birds and he consequently realised that, although interested in marine biology, his real passion was in ornithology. This brought him to the FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, where ornithology and conservation are heavily emphasised.
Life on the edge: does body size dictate how birds deal with the heat in South Africa's most extreme desert? (Supervisor: Susie Cunningham)