Research Associates

Dr Rowan Martin

Dr Rowan Martin
PhD (Sheffield, UK)
BSc Hons (East Anglia, UK)


Activities and research interests:

Rowan’s research interests lie in the fields of behavioural ecology and conservation, specifically understanding the evolutionary and ecological drivers of behaviour, and their implications for the persistence of populations. Rowan also has a general interest in the conservation of parrots (Psittacidae) and is currently the Manager of the World Parrot Trust’s Africa Conservation Programme.

Rowan was based at the Fitz between 2009 and 2013 where he held a DST/NRF Centre of Excellence Post-doctoral Fellowship. His primary research focus was on understanding the role of behavioural plasticity in mediating the impacts of climate change on birds. This research used bird communities in the hot, arid ecosystems of the southern Kalahari to investigate the implications of microclimate use for desert birds, and a long-term dataset on reproduction in a range-expanding raptor population to investigate the demographic implications of phenological plasticity and mating decisions. Rowan continues to collaborate, co-supervise students and assist in the development of the 'Hot birds' research programme with Dr Susie Cunningham.

Rowan’s interest in parrot conservation developed during his doctoral studies on the drivers of mating systems in globally-threatened Yellow-shouldered Amazon parrots (University of Sheffield, UK). This research led to the development of a locally-based NGO (Echo) implementing conservation actions.

In his role as manager of the World Parrot Trust's Africa Conservation Programme, Rowan is responsible for overseeing research, evidence-based actions and outreach initiatives in support of parrot conservation throughout the African region. Direction for the programme is taken from a recent review of research and conservation priorities for parrots in Africa and Madagascar. This review was co-ordinated by Rowan on behalf of the International Ornithologist’s Union Research Co-ordination Committee for parrots (IOU-RCCP). The programme currently includes projects located in South Africa, Zambia and Guinea-Bissau. Current research topics include the origins of disease outbreaks, the breeding behaviour of threatened species, drivers of population and range changes and the impact of the wild-bird trade.

Graduated students:

MSc Conservation Biology:

Penny Pistorius. 2016. How air temperature affects flight initiation distance in arid-zone birds (Co-supervisor: Susie Cunningham)

Phenias Sadondo. 2014.The influence of temperature on parental investment in southern fiscals and consequences for nestling growth. (Co-supervisors: Peter RyanSusie Cunningham)

Gina Louw. 2012. How will climate change affect birds in hot African deserts? (Co-supervisors: Phil Hockey, Susie Cunningham)

Katherine du Plessis. 2011. Heat tolerance of Southern Pied Babblers in the Kalahari Desert: how will they respond to climate change?  (Co-supervisors: Phil Hockey, Amanda Ridley, Susie Cunningham)

Recent peer-reviewed publications:


Ezenwa, I.M., Nwani, C., Ottosson, U. and Martin, R.O. 2019. Opportunities to boost protection of the grey parrot in Nigeria. Oryx 53 (2), 212-213Lopes, D.C., Martin, R.O., Henriques, M., Monterio, H., Cardoso, P., Tchantchalam, Q., Regalla, A. and Catry, P. 2019. Combining local knowledge and field surveys to determine status and threats to Timneh Parrots Psittacus timneh in Guinea-Bissau. Bird Conservation International, 1-13.

Martin, R.O, Senni, C., D’Cruze, N. and Bruschi, N. 2019. Tricks of the trade - legal trade used to conceal Endangered African grey parrots on commercial flights. Oryx 53 (2), 213-213

Mzumara, T.I., Martin, R.O., Tripathi, H., Phiri, C., and Amar A. 2019. Distribution of a habitat specialist: Mopane woodland structure determines occurrence of Near Threatened Lilian’s Lovebird Agapornis lilianae. Bird Conservation International

Lopes, D.C., Martin, R.O., Henriques, M., Monterio, H., Cardoso, P., Tchantchalam, Q., Regalla, A. and Catry, P. 2019. Combining local knowledge and field surveys to determine status and threats to Timneh Parrots Psittacus timneh in Guinea-Bissau. Bird Conservation International, 1-13.

Tripathi, H.G., Mzumara, T.I., Martin, R.O., Parr, C.L., Phiri, C. and Ryan, C.M. 2019. Dissimilar effects of human and elephant disturbance on woodland structure and functional bird diversity in the mopane woodlands of Zambia. Landscape Ecology 34 (2), 357-371


Fogell, D.J., Martin, R.O., Bunbury, N., Lawson, B., Sells, J. and McKeand, A.M. 2018. Trade and conservation implications of new beak and feather disease virus detection in native and introduced parrots. Conservation Biology 32 (6), 1325-1335.

Lopes, D.C., Martin, R.O., Indjai, B., Monteiro, H., Henriques, M., Regalla, A. and Catry, P. 2018. Food diversity of Timneh Parrots (Psittacus timneh) in the Bijagós archipelago, Guinea‐Bissau. African Journal of Ecology 56 (4), 1039-1043. doi: 10.2989/00306525.2017.1397787

Lopes, D.C., Martin, R.O., Henriques, M., Monteiro, H., Regalla, A., Tchantchalam, Q., Indjai, B., Cardoso, S., Manuel, C., Cunha, M., Cunha, D. and Catry, P. 2017. Nest-site characteristics and aspects of the breeding biology of the endangered Timneh Parrot Psittacus timneh in Guinea-Bissau. Ostrich.

Martin, R.O. 2018. Grey areas: temporal and geographical dynamics of international trade of Grey and Timneh Parrots (Psittacus erithacus and P. timneh) under CITES. Emu 118: 113-125.

Martin, R.O. 2018. The wild bird trade and African parrots: past, present and future challenges. Ostrich 89 (2), 139-143.

Martin, R.O., Senni, C. and D’Cruze NC. 2018. Trade in wild-sourced African grey parrots: Insights via social media. Global Ecology and Conservation 15, e0042932018.


Fogell, D.J., Martin, R.O. and Groombridge, J.J. 2016. Beak and feather disease virus in wild and captive parrots: an analysis of geographic and taxonomic distribution and methodological trends. Archives of Virology.

Hart, J., Hart, T., Salumu, L., Bernard, A., Abani, R. and Martin, R.O. 2016. Increasing exploitation of Grey Parrots in eastern DRC drives population declines. Oryx 50: 16. http://dx/ 

Smit, B., Zietsman, G., Martin, R.O., Cunningham, S.J., McKechnie, A.E. and Hockey, P.A.R. 2016. Behavioural responses to heat in desert birds: implications for predicting vulnerability to climate warming. Climate Change Responses 3: 9.

Van de Ven, T.M.F.N., Martin, R.O., Vink, T.J.F., McKechnie, A.E. and Cunningham, S.J. 2016. Regulation of heat exchange across the hornbill beak: functional similarities with toucans? PLoS ONE 11: e0154768.


Cunningham, S.J., Martin, R.O. and Hockey, P.A.R. 2015. Can behaviour buffer the impacts of climate change on an arid-zone bird? Ostrich: Journal of African Ornithology 86(1&2): 119-126. doi:10.2989/00306525.2015.1016469

Martin, R.O., Cunningham S.J. and Hockey P. A.R. 2015. Elevated temperatures drive fine-scale patterns of habitat use in a savannah bird community. Ostrich: Journal of African Ornithology 86(1&2): 127-135.

Regnard, G.L., Boyes, R.S., Martin, R.O., Hitzeroth, I.I. and Rybicki, E.P. 2015. Beak and feather disease viruses circulating in Cape parrots (Poicephalus robustus) in South Africa. Archives of Virology 160(1):47-54.

Regnard, G.L., Boyes, R.S., Martin, R.O., Hitzeroth, I.I., andRybicki, E.P.. 2015. Beak and feather disease virus: correlation between viral load and clinical signs in wild Cape parrots (Poicephalus robustus) in South Africa. Archives of Virology 160(1):339-344.


Martin, R.O., Gilardi J.D., Johnson, R., Kariuki Ndang'ang'a, P., Fotso, R. C., Drori, O. and Perrin, M. 2014. Grey parrot Psittacus harvesting for conservation must have a robust scientific basis: Commentary on Tamungang et al. (2013). 2014. Grey parrot Psittacus harvesting for conservation must have a robust scientific basis: International Journal of Biodiversity and Conservation, 6(11), 750–753.

Martin, R.O., Koeslag, A., Curtis, O. and Amar, A. 2014. Fidelity at the frontier: divorce and dispersal in a newly colonized raptor population. Animal Behaviour 93:59–68.

Martin, R.O., Perrin M.R., Boyes R.S., Abebe Y.D., Annorbah N.D., Asamoah A., Bizimana D., Bobo K.S., Bunbury N., Brouwer J., Diop M.S., Ewnetu M., Fotso R.C., Garteh J., Hall P., Holbech L.H., Madindou I.R., Maisels F., Mokoko J., Mulwa R., Reuleaux A., Symes C., Tamungang S., Taylor S., Valle S., Waltert M. and Wondafrash M. 2014. Research and conservation of the larger parrots of Africa and Madagascar: a review of knowledge gaps and opportunities. Ostrich, 85(3), 205–233.

Martin, R.O., Sebele, L., Koeslag, A., Curtis, O., Abadi, F. and Amar, A.. 2014. Phenological shifts assist colonisation of a novel environment in a range expanding raptor. Oikos 123:1457–1468.

Roberts, M.H., Martin, R.O., Beckerman, A.P. and Williams, S.R. 2014. Occupation rates of artificial and restored natural nest cavities by yellow-shouldered Amazons. Conservation Evidence 11:39–42.


Cunningham, S.J., Martin, R.O., Hojem, C.L. amd Hockey, P.A.R. 2013. Temperatures in excess of critical thresholds threaten nestling growth and survival in a rapidly-warming arid savanna: a study of common fiscals.  PLOS One 8:e74613.
Martin, R.O. 2013. The parrots of Africa: What we know, what we don't, and why it matters. PsittaScene 25.3:4–7.


du Plessis, K.L., Martin, R.O., Hockey, P.A.R., Cummingham, S.J. and Ridley, A.R. 2012. The costs of keeping cool in a warming world: implications of high temperatures for foraging, thermoregulation and body condition of an arid-zone bird. Global Change Biology 18:3063-3070.