Cameron Blair

Biography & Research

Cameron Blair

Cameron has been captivated by birds since he was a small child. His love for natural history was solidified growing up in the town of Hoedspruit, South Africa, a stone’s-throw from the famous Kruger National Park, Blyde River Canyon and Mariepskop forest. At the age of 12 he conducted a study on the choice of nesting locations by Red-headed Weavers for the Tritech Interschool Science Fair, and since then he has wanted to study ornithology.

Cameron has been fascinated by the remarkable life history of honeyguides (being both mutualists and brood parasites) since high school, making it the subject of a project for Visual Arts in his final year. He is also fascinated by the ecological consequences of bird calls as inter- and intraspecific signals.

He completed his BSc at the University of Cape Town in Applied Biology, Ecology and Evolution in 2020. In 2021, he completed BSc Honours with the African Honeyguides team at the University of Cape Town (supervised by Claire Spottiswoode and Jessica van der Wal), where he worked on the development of the guiding call of the Greater Honeyguide that functions in this species’ remarkable co-operative mutualism with humans. This work provided evidence that the guiding call develops from the calls honeyguide chicks use to beg for food from their host parents.

Still based at the University of Cape Town, he is now joining the African Cuckoos team for his MSc, looking at how brood-parasitic honeyguide chicks are able to acoustically deceive their host parents to provide them with large amounts of food. He is supervised by Claire Spottiswoode and Jess Lund.

He is passionate about scientific communication and sharing the wonders of the natural world. This has led him to be involved in the University of Cape Town’s Birding Club, chairing the club in 2020 and 2021. He is also the social media manager for Ostrich: Journal of African Ornithology, and enjoys sharing developments in African ornithological research across its social media platforms.

News

Symposium on moult in tropical birds at International Ornithological Congress

Dr Gabriel Jamie and Dr Chima Nwaogu organised a symposium on “The ecology and evolution of moult in tropical birds” as part of the International Ornithological Congress. The symposium included a Round Table discussion as well as invited talks from a range of speakers including Dr Yahkat Barshep (A. P. Leventis Ornithological Research Institute, Nigeria), Dr Barbara Helm (Swiss Ornithological Research Institute, Switzerland), Dr Oluwadunsin Adekola (FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, University of Cape Town, South Africa & Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria) and Dr Yosef Kiat (University of Haifa, Israel).

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Dr Gabriel Jamie speaks at European Society for Evolutionary Biology conference

Dr Gabriel Jamie was an invited speaker at the European Society for Evolutionary Biology conference in Prague, Czech Republic, as part of the symposium on “Repeated and Parallel Evolution in Adaptive Radiations. Gabriel spoke on “The persistence of polymorphisms across species radiations” building on work conducted together with Dr Joana Meier. To learn more about this research you can read their Trends in Ecology and Evolution paper here.

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Evolutionary Biology Crash Course

Tanmay Dixit was a member of a team organising and lecturing in the inaugural Evolutionary Biology Crash Course. This course, aimed at undergraduate or early-postgraduate students, teaches evolutionary principles to students who have had limited opportunities to be exposed to evolutionary ideas. The course is funded by the Equal Opportunities Initiative Fund of the European Society of Evolutionary Biology (ESEB). Tanmay presented lectures on behavioural ecology and evolution, focussing on kin selection, coevolution, and parasitism. Over 700 students, with the vast majority from the global South, attended the course, which was a resounding success!

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