(0) 1223 331 861
Fax: +44 (0) 1223 336 676
Email: mjf53 at cam.ac.uk
held: Former PhD student (supervisor: Nick
My research centres around the unique breeding biology of
hornbills (Bucerotiformes). In all but two species of hornbill
(the southern and Abyssinian ground hornbills) the female
seals herself into the nest cavity before laying her eggs.
If that wasn't bizarre enough she will also moult all of
her flight feathers (remiges and retrices). This leaves
the female trapped in the nest, relying on provisioning
from her mate to sustain both her and her chicks.
The breeding biology of hornbills offers an exciting opportunity
to investigate a range of ecological questions as well
as some intriguing natural history.
Intrafamilial Conflict. In my particular study species,
the yellow billed hornbill (Tockus leucomelas) the female
emerges mid way during chick development. This presents
an opportunity to investigate both conflict between
parents and offspring and between siblings.
Communication and honesty. Because of female incarceration
the male is the only individual with access to resources.
However he has no information on what resources are
needed apart from what the female (and later chicks)
chooses to provide. I am investigating how the male
gains information and to what extent he is exploited
by his family.
Life history decisions. Incarceration is a high risk
strategy for the female since she must not only plan
for changing environments but also the chances of male
reducing care, abandoning or dying. I am investigating
the factors involved in decisions concerning maternal
investment both initially and those involved in the
choice of the female to leave the nest.
Since completing my undergraduate degree I have spent much of
my time in South Africa. Initially working as a field researcher
for the Kalahari Meerkat Project, collecting a variety of behavioural
data and conducting experiments. After that I moved across the
country to the Lowveld to run the APNR Ground Hornbill Conservation
Project for Morné du Plessis and the Percy Fitzpatrick
institute (University Of Cape Town). I then returned to the
Kalahari as a field assistant with Sinead English researching
behavioural syndromes in meerkats. Directly prior to my PhD
I spent a couple of months on Fair Isle assisting in a study
on starling population dynamics and generally trying not to
fall off mist shrouded cliffs.
S. R., Finnie, M. & Manica, A. (2007). Shoaling preferences
in decapod crustacea. Animal Behaviour 74, 1691-1696.
of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Downing Street,
Cambridge CB2 3EJ, U. K.