PROGRAMME for 2017
Please note that in 2017 evening meetings will take place on a Monday, rather than Tuesday as hitherto.
Monday 13 March 2017: Julian Hume – In search of the dwarf emu: extinct emus of Australian islands.
Abstract: King Island and Kangaroo Island were once home to endemic species of dwarf emu that became extinct in the early 19th century. Emu egg shells have also been found on Flinders Island, which suggests that another emu species may have formerly occurred there. In 1906 J. A. Kershaw undertook a survey of King Island searching for fossil specimens and found emu bones in sand dunes in the south of the island. The available results included a photograph of the fossil locality, but gave no further information as to its whereabouts. Armed with this photograph, I recently travelled to King Island to try and discover where Kershaw had been 110 years before, and in this talk I will present the results of my palaeontological surveys of all three southern Australian islands to find emu subfossil bones. These surveys included a photographic record of many of the surviving birds and also demonstrate how the islands have been radically altered since their discovery in the first decade of the 19th century.
An artistic impression of Sea Elephant Bay c. 1804, with Southern Elephant Seals and King Island Emus, as described by the naturalist, François Péron. Illustration by Julian Hume.
Biography: Julian Hume has travelled widely in search of avian palaeontological deposits, especially in the Mascarene Islands of Mauritius, Réunion and Rodrigues, as well as Hawaii, Madagascar and the islands off southern Australia. By profession, he is an artist specialising in extinct birds, but also has a Ph.D. in avian palaeontology and is a Scientific Associate of the Natural History Museum, Tring. He has written four books and published many papers on birds and their fossil history, with the second edition of his Extinct birds due out in 2017.
Monday 12 June 2017: Alex Bond – Gough Island – an unnatural history of mice and birds.
Abstract: Nestled 2800 km from any continent, the islands of Tristan da Cunha are among the most remote in the world, and have some unique avian biodiversity. But this biodiversity is under threat, particularly at Gough Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and arguably one of the crown jewels of seabird islands. Though uninhabited, house mice were introduced in the late 19th century, and now wreak havoc on the native biota. On Tristan da Cunha, the most remote inhabited island in the world, at least three species have gone locally extinct in the last 200 years. I will provide a history of ornithological exploration on the islands, and focus on our research demonstrating the negative effects of introduced mice on Gough’s seabirds, as well as what we can do (and are doing) about it. We can still save the unique biodiversity of Gough Island, but must act fast or risk losing some of the extraordinary “British” birds.
Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross – the species most at threat from the ‘super-mice’ on Gough Island.
Biography: Dr Alex Bond is a Senior Conservation Scientist at the RSPB Centre for Conservation Science. He leads the RSPB’s programme of scientific research on Tristan da Cunha and Gough Island, and works elsewhere in the UK Overseas Territories (mostly the Pitcairn Islands) on island restoration, demography and marine conservation. He is also an Adjunct Researcher at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, where he works on issues of marine pollution, primarily plastics. He has worked on island systems in eastern Canada, the Aleutians, South Atlantic, South Pacific, Hawaii, and Tasman Sea, among others, and currently supervises 6 research staff and 6 research students spread around the globe. His website is http://alexanderbond.org.
Monday, 18 September: details to be announced.
Monday, 6 November: details to be announced.