It's not a bird, it's a frog

03 March 2008

The Avian Demography Unit (ADU) has morphed into the Animal Demography Unit and has moved from the Department of Statistical Sciences to the Department of Zoology.

The physical move to the John Day Building will take place later this year.

"Avian Demography Unit has long been a misnomer," said ADU director Professor Les Underhill.

The unit started out in 1992, and ever since they initiated the frog atlas project in 1997, questions have been asked about their name.

In addition, they have several postgraduate students doing animal studies: Dr Silvia Mecenero completed a PhD on seals in 2005, Steve Kirkman, Newi Makhado and Mdu Seakamela are registered with the ADU doing PhDs exclusively on seals while Mariëtte Wheeler's PhD has both seal and seabird components. Darren Houniet recently completed an MSc on dwarf chameleons.

All students will now register in zoology and not statistical science, all except one "genuine statistician".

"Although the academic world thrives on these kinds of delightful anomalies, there is no need to perpetuate them forever," Underhill said.

This did not mean a reduction of bird research.

"It simply recognises the fact that, as the ADU has developed, it has grown beyond birds."

Underhill will continue to lecture in the statistical sciences department.

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