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Dr Sally Hofmeyr

Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Phone: 021 650 5073
Email: salhofmeyr@gmail.com
Room No.: 3.22
PhD Thesis: Impacts of environmental change on large terrestrial bird species in South Africa: insights from citizen science data [PDF full-thesis 24.8 MB]

 

Sally grew up in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), and did her BSc(Agric) in Wildlife Science at the University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg campus. Her fourth year thesis was entitled Theoretical foraging models for the cape griffon vulture (Gyps coprotheres). Her interest in birds began in earnest in third year, on a field trip co-led by the legendary Professor Steven Piper, who became her fourth year project supervisor.

Before doing her MSc, Sally spent two years working in South Africa and in the UK, travelling, and finally spending a few months living and working in the Kruger National Park.

In 2003 Sally did a coursework Masters in African Mammalogy through the Mammal Research Institute at the University of Pretoria. Her thesis was entitled Giraffes and the pollination ecology of knobthorns (Acacia nigrescens). It was an intense and highly enjoyable year, involving lots of hard work and several great field trips, including another few weeks in the Kruger Park doing the fieldwork for her project.

Between finishing her Masters and starting her PhD Sally spent another 2.5 years in the UK, where, among other things, she worked at an outdoor environmental education centre. After she returned to South Africa in 2006 she worked for a mapping company in Durban as the camera operator on their aerial survey flights, helped out with the SA-GAINS Avian Influenza project being run through the Percy FitzPatrick Institute at UCT, and did a five-month internship with the IUCN’s Species Survival Commission Chair’s office in Kirstenbosch.

In May 2008 Sally joined the ADU to start work on her PhD, which she completed in 2012. She was supervised by Professor Les Underhill and Dr Phoebe Barnard of SANBI. The thesis used data produced by the Coordinated Avifaunal Roadcounts (CAR) project and the Southern African Bird Atlas Projects (SABAP1 and 2) to assess the conservation status of large terrestrial bird species, especially in relation to land-use change, over much of the country. The project focused on the largely agricultural areas covered by the CAR project, since large terrestrial birds rely heavily on these areas to survive; their range sizes are simply too large to be adequately catered for by protected areas. She focused on six species: Blue Crane, Denham's Bustard, Blue Korhaan, Karoo Korhaan, Northern Black Korhaan and Southern Black Korhaan. She found that all six species are under some degree of threat, but that the Southern Black Korhaan is the most severely threatened of the six. 

In August 2012 Sally commenced a one year post-doctoral fellowship, jointly through the School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences at Wits University and the ADU, mentored by Dr Craig Symes and Professor Les Underhill. This research focuses on the status and conservation of Secretarybirds, which are in decline and have recently been classified as globally Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. The work included analysis of data from SABAP and CAR, and fieldwork in Tswalu Kalahari

After a brief sojourn in an excellent and exciting environmental consulting company, C4 EcoSolutions, Sally returned to the ADU in January 2014 to take up a post-doctoral research fellowship in "translational research communication", in collaboration with OpenUCT. In plain English, the aim of this work is to investigate methods for making the many exciting research findings produced by the ADU accessible to the public. This will include analysing the reach of the ADU's current public communication efforts (e.g. the ADU website, Facebook pages, radio interviews, magazine articles, etc.) as well as developing new ways of broadening our reach. One aspect of this work about which Sally is particularly excited is the potential to develop resources for education that are based on citizen science data curated by the ADU, and working towards the incorporation of these resources into school curricula.

Publications

  • Hofmeyr, S.D., Symes, C.T., Underhill, L.G. 2014. Secretarybird Sagittarius serpentarius population trends and ecology: insights from South African citizen science data. PLoS ONE 9(5): e96772. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0096772
  • Fleming, P.A., Hofmeyr, S.D., & Nicolson, S.W. 2007. Role of insects in the pollination of Acacia nigrescens (Fabaceae). South African Journal of Botany 73:49-55.
  • Fleming, P.A., Hofmeyr, S.D., Nicolson, S.W. & du Toit, J.T. 2006. Are giraffes pollinators or flower predators of Acacia nigrescens in Kruger National Park, South Africa? Journal of Tropical Ecology 22:247-253.

Contributor to:

  • De Villiers, M.S. (ed.). 2009. Birds and Environmental Change: building an early warning system in South Africa. SANBI, Pretoria.

In prep: 

  • Hofmeyr, S.D., Brouwer, J., Buij, R., Baker, N., Roxburgh, L., Symes, C.T., Underhill, L.G. In prep. Population trends and conservation status of the Secretarybird Sagittarius serpentarius across sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Hofmeyr, S.D., Underhill, L.G., BarnardP., Altwegg, R., Broms, K., Young, D.J. In prep. Using long-term public participation surveys to document a species decline: the Southern Black Korhaan Afrotis afra.
  • Hofmeyr, S.D., Underhill, L.G., Barnard, P., Young, D.J. In prep. A threatened invader? The case of the Blue Crane Anthropoides paradiseus.

Conference presentations

  • Population trends, movements and habitat use of the Secretarybird Sagittarius serpentarius. Poster presentation, 3rd Annual Diamond Route Research Conference, Johannesburg, October 2012.
  • Using citizen science to document a species decline: the Southern Black Korhaan Afrotis afra. Oral presentation, 13th Pan-African Ornithological Congress, Arusha, October 2012.
  • Population trends, movements and habitat use of the Secretarybird Sagittarius serpentarius. Poster presentation, 13th Pan-African Ornithological Congress, Arusha, October 2012.
  • Large terrestrial birds of the fynbos: how have they responded to land-use change? Oral presentation, Fynbos Forum, Stilbaai, June 2011.
  • How long-term monitoring has helped us to identify a species in trouble: the case of the Southern Black Korhaan Afrotis afra. Poster presentation, SAEON Summit, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Cape Town, October 2010.
  • The Southern Black Korhaan – a fynbos species in trouble. Oral presentation, Fynbos Forum, Citrusdal, August 2010.
  • How long-term monitoring has helped us to identify a species in trouble: the case of the Southern Black Korhaan Afrotis afra. Oral presentation, SAEON Graduate Student Network Indibano, Port Elizabeth, March 2010.
  • What the CAR project can tell us about bustard and korhaan populations in South Africa. Oral presentation, Zoological Society of Southern Africa 50th Anniversary Conference, Natalia, Illovo Beach, KwaZulu-Natal, July 2009.
  • Trends from the CAR project and what I hope to do with them. Oral presentation, Bustard Working Group inaugural meeting, Delta Park, Johannesburg, May 2009.
  • Conservation impacts of environmental change on populations of threatened large terrestrial bird species in South Africa. Poster presentation, 12th Pan-African Ornithological Congress, Goudini Spa, September 2008.
  • Conservation impacts of environmental change on populations of threatened large terrestrial bird species in South Africa. Oral presentation, SAEON Graduate Student Network Indibano, De Hoop Nature Reserve, August 2008.

Other presentations

  • Southern Black Korhaan: losing ground. Oral presentation, Birds & Climate Change (a course run by the Cape Bird Club), Cape Town, July 2011.
  • Conservation impacts of environmental change on large terrestrial birds. Invited talk given at the Stanford Bird Fair, Stanford, October 2010.
  • The decline of the Southern Black Korhaan and how SABAP and the CAR project have alerted us to it. Oral presentation, Barberspan Ringing and Atlassing Workshop, Barberspan Nature Reserve, March 2010.

Delivered presentations on the CAR project, results obtained from the CAR and SABAP data, and conservation recommendations for land managers, to:

  • BirdLife Overberg, Hermanus, June 2013
  • UCT taxidermy students, Cape Town, June 2013
  • Worcester Bird Club, Worcester, June 2012
  • WESSA members' evening, Cape Town, November 2010
  • Farmers who have set up a conservancy in the Swartland, February 2010
  • WESSA: Northern Cape, Kimberley, November 2009
  • WESSA: Sani Wildlife, Underberg, July 2009
  • Humansdorp CAR participants, May 2009