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PhD student

Megan Loftie-Eaton

Thesis topic: The impacts of bush encroachment on bird distributions in the savannah biome of South Africa

Supervisors:Emeritus​ Prof Les Underhill (ADU and Prof M.Timm Hoffman
Collaborating Institution: Animal Demography Unit (ADU), UCT



Megan went as far as grade 11 at Hoër Meisieskool Bloemhof in Stellenbosch. She moved to Canada during half of her grade 11 in June 2006 and finished grade 12 in Canada at North Peace Secondary School in Fort St John, British Columbia. She completed a four-year BSc in Environmental and Conservation Sciences with a major in Conservation Biology at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada, in April 2011. She graduated with distinction.

She is very happy to be back in South Africa and has completed her MSc in Zoology at the Animal Demography Unit, University of Cape Town, supervised by Dr Res Altwegg and Professor Les Underhill. Megan looked at the geographic range dynamics of South Africa’s birds, using data from the Southern Africa Bird Atlas Projects (SABAP1 and SABAP2).

Megan is currently busy with her PhD in Biological Sciences, co-supervised by Professor Les Underhill (Animal Demography Unit) and Professor Timm Hoffman (Plant Conservation Unit). She is examining how the phenomenon of bush encroachment has impacted bird species’ composition and distribution in the savannah biome of South Africa. With bush encroachment recognized as key factor driving range dynamics in the savannah biome, planning to mitigate its impact becomes top priority. Many endangered species, like the Southern Ground Hornbill (Bucorvus leadbeateri), are being impacted negatively by bush encroachment. Megan is working closely with Lucy Kemp from the Mabula Ground Hornbill Project to establish which sites in Limpopo and Mpumalanga Province would be optimal for the reintroduction of Southern Ground Hornbills. 

Loftie-Eaton, M. 2014. Comparing reporting rates between the First and Second Southern African Bird Atlas Project. Ornithological Observations 2015 6:1-11. URL: