The MLSG was able to fund six students/early career researchers to attend the PAOC15 in Victoria Falls in November 2022. These are their accounts of the experience.
By Oluwadunsin Emmanuel Adekola (University of Cape Town, South Africa)
In November 2022, I attended my first Pan-African Ornithological Congress (PAOC) in the beautiful city of Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. As a PhD researcher at the FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, University of Cape Town, South Africa, the COVID-19 pandemic hindered my participation in many in-person conferences, as conferences had to go virtual. So, to attend my first in-person conference after a long time was a dream coming true.
I had already lost hope of attending the PAOC due to funding issues, until the MLSG came through for me. I delivered an oral presentation titled “Moult duration and symmetry, but not timing differed between two breeding colonies of Cape Gannets in South Africa”. My research explores how large birds balance moult with other aspects of their annual cycle. Specifically, I assessed how long-winged birds manage to replace their large number of secondaries, including strategies to limit the impact of intensive secondary moult in terms of loss of wing area. I provided several lines of evidence that moult may be used as an index of condition and ultimately as an indicator of fitness. Moving forward, I am interested in analysing moult from an evolutionary and life history perspective. It was interesting to get feedback about my work from participants.
I had many highlights during the PAOC, which includes my visit to the magnificent Victoria falls, sound interactions during the round-table discussions, thought-provoking plenary talks, interesting oral and poster presentations, catching up with old friends and colleagues, early morning bird watching, inspiring stories from participants, and wonderful collaborations and networking. I was able to collaborate with researchers interested in moult studies and bird ringing.
At the PAOC, I met people whose works I have cited multiple times. What a great opportunity! MLSG made this possible and for this I am eternally grateful!