Climate change is relentless and ongoing, and the world’s deserts are heating up. Desert species already live life on the edge and can give us early warning of the impacts of change.
We investigate the thermal physiology and behaviour of desert birds. We study birds at both community and species levels, and our core goal is to understand how and why they are likely to cope – or fail to cope – in a hotter world. Along the way we are making exciting discoveries and adding to our knowledge of thermal biology, ecophysiology, behavioural ecology and life history strategies.
The Hot Birds Project was initiated in 2009 by the late Prof. Phil Hockey, then Director of the FitzPatrick Institute, University of Cape Town, and Prof. Andrew McKechnie, University of Pretoria. Today we are an interdisciplinary team of physiologists and behavioural ecologists consisting of professors, lecturers, post-docs, students, and research assistants from universities in South Africa, the USA, and Australia, with collaborators even further afield.
Navigate around the pages to find out more about our three major directions linked to temperature: behaviour, physiology and their interface; and to learn about the work we are doing in the Fynbos biome as well.