Current Projects

Dr. Stephanie Payne


My academic career began at the University of the Witwatersrand in 2010, where I started a B.Sc., majoring in Zoology and Applied and Experimental Physiology.  In 2013, I received my B.Sc. (Hons) Zoology, where I focused on bird and small-mammal pollination of the Critically Endangered Aloe peglerae. This was the first quantified record of small-mammal pollination in the genus. This evolved into my Masters in Zoology (completed 2016) and eventually my PhD (completed 2019), where I looked at bird-pollination systems within multiple endemic Aloe species, which included how birds respond to different flower colours in the polymorphic Aloe petricola. My research involved fieldwork across multiple grassland and savanna sites in the Mpumalanga and Gauteng Provinces, South Africa. This led to a fascination of flower colour and pigmentation, and I started a Postdoc at WITS University investigating how and when floral colours and pigmentation evolved from white to yellow to pink in the global family Hypoxidaceae (Star-grass family). However, I could not stay away from birds and their interactions with, and responses to, their environments, and so I joined the Hot Birds Team as a Postdoc at the start of 2021.

Contact Details

Department of Zoology and Entomology

University of Pretoria

Pretoria, 0002

South Africa



Research Interests


My primary research interests are how animals (particularly birds) and plants interact with, and respond to, each other and their environments. While this is mostly from a pollination and resource selection perspective, I am also interested in the physiological and behavioural responses of animals to their environment, and how they handle changes in their environments. My current postdoc is investigating which different behavioural and physiological traits of arid-zone birds can be used to predict their sensitivity and vulnerability to climate change.

Research project

A trait-based approach to assessing the sensitivity and exposure of arid-zone birds to climate change.

Collaborators: Prof. Andrew McKechnie and Dr Susie Cunningham


Past Projects

Dr. Matthew Noakes

Global variation in avian metabolic rate and body temperature

Collaborator: Prof. Andrew McKechnie

Dr. Zenon Czenze

Hot Bats Research Project

Collaborator: Prof. Andrew McKechnie