Upcoming Meetings

PROGRAMME for 2024

Monday 20th May

What Can Birds’ Nests Teach us About Evolution?

Most birds build a nest, a key adaptation protecting eggs and chicks from predators and harsh environments. From the collections of Victorian naturalists to the popularity of bird’s nest soup, human fascination with nests has generated many hypotheses on the role that nests play in avian ecology and evolution. Thanks to new data and computational techniques, we can now begin to test these ideas – with some surprising results. In this lecture, I’ll present some of my and others’ recent work on global bird nest diversity and discuss the role (or not!) of nests in shaping broad-scale avian evolutionary history. I’ll also talk about the future of nests in a changing world, including birds that incorporate artificial materials into their nests.

Dr Catherine Sheard is an Interdisciplinary Fellow at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, a role she came to via a DPhil at the University of Oxford and postdoctoral positions at the Universities of St Andrews and Bristol. She studies evolution at large temporal and spatial scales, with a particular interest in how innovations in animal behaviour have shaped the biodiversity that can be observed today.

This is a joint, hybrid event with the Linnean Society of London.

From Victorian collections to bird’s nest soup, human fascination with bird nests has been persistent. But what lies in their future?

Please book your ticket here.