30th January 2017 – Naima Montacer Hill, EnviroAdventures.com

naima-jeannetteNaima Jeannette is a passionate conservationist at heart. She currently teaches Environmental Biology at a community college in Dallas, Texas and freelance writes for various newspapers, magazines and online outlets. Naima has a Master of Science degree in Biology, with a focus on Wildlife, and completed a research thesis project on ringtails in Palo Duro Canyon State Park, located in the panhandle of Texas. Throughout her career she has been in the field as a scientist and environmental educator, and now focuses on being the communicative bridge between scientists and the general public. 

Here’s the real deal:

I grew up with a sense of wonder for the outdoors, so much so my first word was, “outside.” I never lost my enthusiasm for wildlife and wild spaces and grew my career following my passion. I’ve worked as a zookeeper, wildlife field research leader, teacher naturalist, environmental educator and in all of these roles I wanted to increase my knowledge and help others understand our connection to the natural world. It wasn’t until I started a blog that I found an outlet where I could reach people through written words. This inspired me to look toward science communication as an outlet to educate people about science and encourage everyone to practice conservation in their every day lives. My writing gives me the opportunity to meet and discuss conservation issues with scientists, private land owners, government employees, elected officials, and various community members. It is exciting to discover knew knowledge and translate often complicated science into easy to understand content every one can understand. 

I love everything outdoors from kayaking to hiking and am always up for a travel adventure with my two pups and husband. Let’s chat on Twitter, follow me @naimajeannette

11th July 2016 – Dan Sankey, Swansea University

Daniel SankeySo I applied to take over the @Biotweeps twitter feed and they said yes! I’m completely stoked, so I’ve been getting inspired about some new ideas for a direction to take the feed in… Here is the biog I gave them:

As a keen early career researcher, fascinated by consensus decision making in animal groups, I thought it appropriate (and good fun) to create polls on the BIG questions in the Biosciences: a consensus from the experts! To rally enthusiasm, and to get a killer set of questions prepared, I have started sending out question requests to my followers, and this goes for you now too J. I am requesting questions of general interest and importance, to encourage discussion about critical topics in the biosciences.

For example, would the poll for the question: “How should money be distributed on conservation resources?” reflect the actual proportions in place? What can or should be done differently? I look forward to some healthy debate while I’m in the hot-seat.

To keep this side of my time on @Biotweeps relatively profound, I think one BIG question per day (with authors handle attached) should suffice, and hopefully get people thinking about their own core values, ethics and good science!

For the rest (95%) of my time I should be out in Chamois; France, tagging cattle to help @Richwithtea on his research project (in the name of movement ecology), and paying tribute to the cows too (by eating their tasty cheese! ). So expect loads of lush mountain views, and posts about interesting new science in behavioural ecology and beyond!

9th May 2016 – The Wytham Tit Project, University of Oxford

Wytham titsThe Wytham Tit Project is a long-term population study of great tits (Parus major) and blue tits (Cyanistes caeruleus) based at Wytham Woods near Oxford, UK, and is run by the Edward Grey Institute in the Department of Zoology at the University of Oxford. The project was set up in 1947 by John Gibb and David Lack, inspired by pioneering work by Kluijver in the Netherlands, in order to study the breeding biology of the great tit. Tits make excellent study species for ecological research as they readily take to artificial nest boxes, breed at high densities and cope well with being monitored. Lack initially put up 100 nest boxes in one section of Wytham Woods; the study was later expanded around 1960 to cover the entire 385-hectare woodland using over 1000 fixed location nest boxes. Over the last 57 years, we have monitored all the breeding attempts in these boxes and individually-marked all parents and offspring (spanning up to 40 generations), making this one of the longest running ecological studies of marked wild individual animals in the world.

Over these decades, scores of researchers, PhD students and undergraduates have used the Wytham tit system to explore a broad range of ecological questions, resulting in over 300 peer-reviewed publications. Some major themes of this work are (1) life-history biology, (2) response to climate change and the ecology of phenology (3) ecology and epidemiology of disease, (3) optimal foraging, (4) predator-prey interactions, (5) social behavior and spread of information through social networks, (6) the causes and consequences of individual variation in personality, and (7) quantitative and molecular genetics.

The 2016 breeding season is now well underway in Wytham Woods. Over 400 female tits have begun laying in our nest boxes and we expect another couple of hundred to start in the coming weeks. We already have our first hatchlings, which, over the next fortnight, will grow to c. 18 times their hatching weight before leaving the nest! Throughout the week we’ll be tweeting news and pictures from the woods (mainly tit-related but also other woodland activity) as well as facts, findings and videos about tit research. Tweeting will mainly be done by Dr Ella Cole (@EllaFCole, Research Fellow and tit project coordinator) and Prof Ben Sheldon (@Ben_Sheldon_EGI, Head of the Wytham Tit Project).

18th April 2016 -Jen McDonald, Western University

Jen McDonaldI started my MSc at Western University (back when it was the University of Western Ontario!) in September 2007. In 2009, I rolled up to a PhD, and graduated in August 2015. When I finished my undergrad degree at McMaster University, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with the rest of my life (I still wonder if I know what I want to do with the rest of my life…) so I applied to both teacher’s college and graduate school. I was rejected at every teacher’s college I applied to, but accepted to grad school…so I guess that made that decision easy! I chose my supervisor, Dr. Greg Thorn, based on how cool is previous grad students’ projects sounded: many of them did work in Costa Rica, and it was my dream to travel somewhere exotic for field work! Joke’s on me; I still have never been to Costa Rica, and my field work was all done in Ontario. For my PhD thesis I studied the systematics of an obscure group of fungi, comparing morphologial and molecular methods of identifying species. I found out that, while morphology may be informative for some species, there’s an enormous amount of morphological variation in other species. Geography and host or substrate might also be informative for some species (some are highly host- and location-specific), while others are generalists that are truly cosmopolitan (one species occurs on five continents across temperate and tropical forest ecosystems) or have been collected on twenty different species. I managed to describe a few (OK, to toot my own horn: 18) new species from herbarium collections, fresh collections from my field work, fresh collections mailed to me from around the world, and culture collections.

During my degree I rekindled my passion for teaching and became heavily involved in curriculum mapping, course development, and teaching pedagogy. I now have a contract in partnership between Nelson Publishing and Western U to implement new teaching and learning technologies into our massive first year biology course (about 1800 students across 2 different courses).

While in grad school I also taught myself how to knit, and I work part-time in a yarn store. So Twitter beware: I’ll probably be tweeting about my knitting!

28th March 2016 – Rob Thomas, Cardiff University & Eco-explore

Rob Thomas photoI am a senior lecturer at Cardiff University, and co-director of Eco-explore (www.eco-explore.co.uk); a scientific research and engagement enterprise. My research interests in zoology, ecology and conservation stem from my origins as a birdwatcher in mid-Wales. My research group studies animal behaviour in changing environments, investigating the effects of climate on individuals, populations and ecological processes – particularly how such effects may be mediated by the behaviour of individual animals. The environmental changes that we study range from habitat destruction, long-term climate changes, through seasonal and daily changes, to the sudden appearance of a potential predator or an unfamiliar type of food. This work falls under four main headings, though there is plenty of overlap between these topics.

Climate change biology 

Focusing on several major study systems that use migratory birds as sensitive bio-indicators of climate-driven changes in trophic relationships.

  • The European Storm Petrel –the smallest Atlantic seabird
  • The Northern Wheatear –which has the most extreme trans-oceanic migration of any songbird
  • Reed-bed warblers (Reed Warblers and Sedge Warblers) –a pair of congeneric migrants with contrasting migration strategies
  • Pied Flycatchers and Barn Swallows –two model species in the study of climate impacts on migratory birds.

Sensory constraints on behaviour

  • Eye design in birds and visual constraints on behaviour
  • Impacts of light and noise pollution on wildlife

Dietary wariness and foraging ecology

  • Novel-food wariness in birds and fish, and its evolutionary consequences
  • Strategic regulation of energy reserves in wild birds

Impacts of human activities on wild animals

  • Impacts of capture and handling on birds and other animals
  • Practical conservation of populations, habitats and biodiversity hotspots in a changing world
  • Ecological impacts of eco-tourism

Scientific engagement work

My role in Eco-explore involves a range of scientific engagement work with schools, universities and NGOs. One of my special interests is the teaching of data analysis in a non-intimidating way, to empower amateur and professional researchers to explore the full potential of the data that they collect. I also run regular citizen-science expeditions and field courses in Portugal, Senegal and in the UK.

To find out more about my work at Cardiff University and Eco-explore, follow these links:




2nd February 2016 – Sean McCann

Sean McCann 1I am a behavioural ecologist, currently seeking a postdoc or steady employment in a difficult time! I studied mosquito physiology and aging for my Masters at University of Florida, and then predation and nesting behaviour of Red-throated Caracaras at Simon Fraser University. I am an avid photographer, and often use photography and videography in my research and teaching. Since my PhD I have been looking for postdoctoral positions, as well as working on invasive ants and biodiversity inventories.  If you follow me this week, be prepared for lots of natural history, photography and speculation about careers!

18th January 2016 – British Ornithologists’ Union

IBIS avatarThis week the BOU (@IBIS_journal) has lined up a series of ornithology tweeps to discuss a different avian science topic each day. Look out for free IBIS content linked to from tweets which will only be available during this BOU ornithology Biotweeps week!

IBIS_Dan BeckerMonday, 18 January | Avian health and disease
Dan Becker | @danjbecker | University of Georgia, US

Dan is a PhD candidate at the University of Georgia, where he studies infectious disease dynamics, particularly of zoonoses. He is interested in how changes to food resources of wildlife (whether these are acorn masts or supplemental feeding) interact with host ecology to shift infection outcomes. He dabbles in mathematical modeling and fieldwork, the latter focused on vampire bats and livestock intensification in Latin America.

Today Dan will be posting about avian infectious disease, but expect at least a few related to health benefits and costs of bird feeding. Dan’s personal website is danieljbecker.weebly.com.

IBIS_Tom EvansTuesday, 19 January | Avian tracking
Tom Evans | @ThomasEvans | Lund University, Sweden

Tom is a British biologist based at Lund University in Sweden. His PhD work is focussed on the movement ecology of seabirds, which I study with GPS and other technologies.

Today Tom will be discussing avian tracking and the fantastic insights new technologies have given scientists into the lives of birds. We are learning of extraordinary trans-oceanic migrations by shorebirds flying 10,000 kilometres non-stop from Alaska to New Zealand, of aerial insect eating birds spending 9 months in the air without landing, and of geese migrating across the Himalayas reaching altitudes of 7,000 metres.


IBIS_Nino OHanlonWednesday, 20 Janaury | Seabird ecology
Nino O’Hanlon | @Nina_OHanlon | University of Glasgow, UK & Sjúrður Hammer | @sjurdur | University of Glasgow, UK

IBIS_Sjúrður HammerNina and Sjúrður are PhD students at the University of Glasgow (@UofGlasgow) supervised by Ruedi
Nager. Nina is a looking at spatial variation in herring gull traits and demography, and whether Herring Gulls can be used as Sjurdur portrait indicators of coastal marine environments. Sjúrður is mainly interested in great skua breeding ecology in the Faroe Islands, pollution monitoring – both with regards to marine plastic and Persistent Organic Pollutants. They both share a particular research interest in seabird eggs – oology – and what they can potentially reveal about seabird ecology and pollutant.


IBIS_Richard FaceyThursday, 21 January | Weather and fecundity
Richard Facey | @faceyrj | Cardiff University, UK

Rich has worked in nature conservation for 13 years, going part-time as a Conservation Officer for Natural Resources Wales, in order to become a part-time postgraduate student at Cardiff University. His research interests are predominately focused on how organisms adapt to changing environments – be that from climate change or urban expansion – with an emphasis on weather and fecundity. In 2013 he enrolled as a part-time post graduate student at Cardiff University. His thesis examines the impact of local weather variation on the seasonal fecundity of Swallows Hirundo rustica and the decisions they make to overcome those impacts.


IBIS_Kate PlummerFriday, 22 January | Urban birds
Kate Plummer | @_KatePlummer | BTO, UK & Co-Organiser of #BOU2016 Urban Birds conference

Kate is a Research Ecologist at the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO – @_BTO) with a passion for urban ecology. Her research focuses on human-wildlife interactions in urban areas, and she’ll be tweeting some interesting facts and figures about urban birds – what shapes urban bird communities, how are birds adapting to live in our rapidly changing cities, and why might interacting with urban birds be beneficial for human well-being? If these questions interest you as much as they do me, then check out our upcoming BOU conference. You can find out more about Kate and her research here or on twitter @_KatePlummer.