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I have a broad range of interests in biology, including evolutionary
ecology, phylogenetics, biogeography and palaeontology. I also think
popular science communication is an essential activity for working
scientists and would hope to promote this in the department.
For my PhD I will be examining how social animals, specifically vultures, forage for food. Animals that exploit unpredictable resources are driven to cooperate so that they can more efficiently forage.Vultures are an interesting group to study because of the social networks that emerge as they search for food. Normally, carcasses are unpredictable but I want to examine how predictable carcasses can bring about a change in vulture behaviour. The hypothesis being that they will start to abandon their social networks.
Computer models can greatly aid our understanding of animal interactions and I will be looking at developing models to predict the interactions of the vultures as they forage. Yet, models succeed or fail by the assumptions that they make. Accordingly, I will bolster these models with empirical data collected on a number of field trips to Swaziland.
The ecological importance of scavengers is often overlooked. The catastrophic collapse of vulture populations in India had disastrous consequences for the local ecology and ultimately led to an increase in diseases to which humans are susceptible. Considering that vulture populations are declining all over Africa my research will have implications for the conservation of this group. Hopefully I’ll be able to change the public perception of this often reviled group by emphasising their ecological importance.
Monadjem A., Wolter K., Neser W. & Kane A. (In press) Effect of rehabilitation on survival rates of endangered Cape vultures. Animal Conservation doi (available ahead of print in Early View)
Wakefield, E.D., Bodey, T.W., Bearhop, S., Blackburn, J., Colhoun, K., Davies, R., Dwyer, R.G., Green, J., Grémillet, D., Jackson, A.L., Jessopp, M.J., Kane, A., Langston, R.H.W., Lescroël, A., Murray, S., Le Nuz, M., Patrick, S.C., Péron, C., Soanes, L., Wanless, S., Votier, S.C., & Hamer, K.C. 2013. Space Partitioning Without Territoriality in Gannets. Science. doi (available ahead of print in Science Express)
Monadjem A., Kane A., Botha A., Dalton D., Kotze A. (2012) Survival and Population Dynamics of the Marabou Stork in an Isolated Population, Swaziland. PloS one 7(9), e46434. doi
Kane A. (2012) A suggestion on improving mathematically heavy papers. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.109 (45), E3056 doi