|2013-03-16 ||Les Underhill |
|Don't delay. Act today. If you have not yet ordered your butterfly atlas, you should do so now |
The prepublication offer for the butterfly atlas will remain open until the end of March, two weeks time.
During April, CTP will print the number of copies that have been ordered, and as soon as they are delivered (during May), Netbooks will distribute the books to those who have bought copies.
Act today, otherwise you will lose out on an awesome addition to your bookshelf.
More details about the book are available here. If you are outside of South Africa and want to purchase the book, or if you want to pay by credit card, go directly to the Netbooks website. If you are inside South Africa and want to pay by EFT, go here and proceed to the order form at the bottom of the page.
|2013-02-02 ||Les Underhill |
|Annual Report for the ADU 2012 |
The Animal Demography Unit believes that the best way to achieve biodiversity conservation is through enabling conservation decisions to be based on solid quantitative evidence. We achieve this in three ways. We gather enormous volumes of data through our expanding citizen science programmes. We lead Africa in the emerging discipline of statistical ecology, and use its approaches to understand the dynamics of animal populations. We multiply our effectiveness by training postgraduate students to apply this paradigm. This annual report describes our progress during 2012.
You can download it here.
The layout of the report was done by PhD student Elsa Busierre. Thanks, Elsa.
|2013-02-02 ||Les Underhill |
|What do these species have in common? |
What do these beautiful animals have in common? They are all dependent on wetlands. Today, 2 February, is World Wetlands Day, the day we focus on the importance of wetlands. Why 2 February? "It marks the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea. Each year since 1997, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and groups of citizens at all levels of the community have taken advantage of the opportunity to undertake actions aimed at raising public awareness of wetland values and benefits in general, and the Ramsar Convention in particular" – this statement is from the Ramsar Convention itself.
Anada Tiéga, the Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, in a message about World Wetlands Day 2013 says: "Our focus this year is the chance for all of us working for wetlands to convince those who manage water that wetlands are not competitors for water but rather they are essential components of water infrastructure, providing a clean source and store of freshwater. Please join us in celebrating World Wetlands Day this year and help us to raise awareness about the critical role of wetlands in water management." You can read the full message here.
What is another thing these beautiful animals have in common? All these photographs are from the Virtual Museums of the Animal Demography Unit. Our Virtual Museums are like the "staff only" area in a real museum, where there are vast collections of specimens, not like the "public display" area, where there are only one or two specimens of a species on display. We are happiest if we have thousands of photographs of the same species, we are not concerned about duplicate records. From this enormous database, we can compile a set of photographs of all the species of birds, reptiles, frogs, mammals, dragonflies, and even butterflies that are dependent on a particular wetland, using photographs from that wetland. In broad terms, our Virtual Museums are helping to build up a knowledge of the 21st century distributions of species, a vital contribution to all conservation initiatives.
This collage was assembled by MSc student Megan Loftie-Eaton. Thanks, Megan.
|2013-02-01 ||Les Underhill |
|CAR count on 26 January: 20 years of counting in the Overberg! |
The CAR project monitors large terrestrial bird species, mainly across agricultural landscapes. Donella Young, CAR project coordinator, reports on the survey undertaken last Saturday: "What an amazing milestone to celebrate in the journey of the CAR project, 40 counts in the Overberg precinct! When David Allan enlisted Cape Bird Club members to do roadcounts of the threatened Blue Cranes and Denham's Bustards in July 1993, I am sure he never envisaged the project continuing for 20 years, spreading throughout most of South Africa and also including many more species.
"Last Saturday's count, observers in the Overberg and Swartland also did a trial survey of four raptors and the corvids as well, because there is concern about raptors declining and corvids increasing. From the July count we would like all participants to include these species. In re-reading David's foreword of the CAR eight-year report I see that he would approve of this – he admits to counting the raptors in his own counts saying 'raptorphilia allowed nothing less!' David also wrote that one of his assistants 'dryly commented, as they passed through Riviersonderend in the Overberg for the umpteenth time that year, that he felt trapped in a "Road-count-sonderend."' David 'fervently wished the same fate for current and future participants.'
"Eighteen Overberg observers were able to gather at the Caledon Wild Flower Gardens to celebrate this milestone on Saturday afternoon after the count. Inés and Duncan Cooke and I really enjoyed seeing people, some of whom we hadn't seen since the 10-year celebration on Wicus Leeuwner's farm and a few whom we hadn't met yet. It makes such a difference to be able to match a voice to the person. In sharing some highlights with the group gathered I was really struck by the faithfulness of observers to counting their route. As far as I know CWAC and CAR are the only bird monitoring projects in South Africa that span such a long period. Congratulations to you all and particularly to Wicus Leeuwner, Dave and Sue Whitelaw, Sheila and Pieter Siebert, Madelaine Loubser and Mel Tripp who counted in that inaugural count in 1993 and are still counting (Mel is now counting a route in the Swartland).
"As far as the Blue Cranes are concerned it is very interesting that route OV18 had the highest total for 19 summer counts (3569), but route OV08 had the highest total for the 20 winter counts (12873). This means that Keith and Michele Moodie, who often count OV08 by bicycle, have counted more cranes than anyone else in CAR! Wicus counts OV18, and records many breeding pairs and their offspring – a large section of his route is along the Riviersonderend River. OV08 has a huge number of wetlands/dams near the route. The route with the highest total of Denham's Bustards for the 20 winter counts was OV13 with 546 birds. In winter 2006, Jill Mortimer, Inés Cooke, Rene Lind and Ann White had the amazing total of 94 Denham’s Bustard on this 70 km route near De Hoop, which they have counted for many years. However OV24 had the highest total for all summer counts by far (238). Mick D’Alton initiated OV24 on the Agulhas Plain and Dave and Sue Whitelaw have counted it more recently.
"Thank you to Adriaan Hanekom, Chairperson of the Caledon Wildflower Society, for arranging for us to meet in sheltered shade close to the cars and for the very welcome cup of tea/coffee which you, your wife and sister provided for us. Inés and Duncan Cooke made the most amazing and delicious iced fruit cake which we so enjoyed sharing. Inés and Duncan are going on a trip up the N2 later in February and are thoughtfully going to take cake to those further north, who were too far to come to the Caledon gathering!
"Each and every count is important, thank you to each team of observers for planning to be out bumping over dirt roads, stopping to get out every 2 km, scanning all around for the big birds, recording all the details on your form and now sending it to your Precinct Organiser. All your time, effort, skills and transport costs are much appreciated and many thanks to those who are also able to capture the data online. I am most impressed that by Wednesday morning there were already 25 captured routes on MyBirdPatch. The Humansdorp routes are all captured, thanks to Yvonne Craig-Bosman, the Precinct Organiser. Surveys were done all over South Africa, and to celebrate this, here is the team that counted Route FS106 in the Free State: Rikus, Dawie, Iné de Swardt and Hennie Bester. Many thanks to everyone who was involved last Saturday!"
|2012-12-05 ||Les Underhill |
|You can throw rocks at bulldozers, or you can become a citizen scientist |
The Animal Demography Unit believes that we can influence biodiversity policy, locally, nationally and globally. We believe that the best way to achieve this is by enabling conservation decisions to be based on solid quantitative evidence. Through our expanding range of citizen science programmes, we gather the enormous volumes of data needed for this decision making. In the Animal Demography Unit, we have three focuses: citizen science, statistical ecology, and training postgraduate students in our paradigm.
The citizen scientists who participate in our projects have the assurance that their data will be lovingly curated, and be made available for conservation research and management. We do a lot of the analyses ourselves, because we lead Africa in the emerging discipline of statistical ecology, and we use its approaches to understand the dynamics of animal populations. The two ADU PhD students who graduate on 17 December, Sally Hofmeyr and Doug Harebottle, undertook analyses of the CAR and CWAC databases respectively. These are two of our large and long-running citizen science projects. Both PhD projects lie firmly in the centre of the intersection between citizen science, statistical ecology and education.
This summer we would like all of our citizen scientists to try and participate in additional ADU projects. Have a look at the comprehensive collection of logos alongside. Do you know them all? If not, explore our websites to find them. The projects that end with the word MAP are all Virtual Museum projects. The set of taxa with virtual museum projects is steadily expanding, and most of the logos you don't recognize will be at vmus.adu.org.za.
So the choice is yours. You can throw stones at the bulldozers, become an activist, write letters to the polititians, join an NGO ... or you can do the thing that really does make a difference, become a citizen scientist, and help collect some of the crucial small pieces of the jigsaw puzzle of biodiversity. Without all the pieces, no amount of statistical ecology will enable us to construct the full picture on which conservation will be based. Biodiversity needs your help.