Megan Murgatroyd

PhD candidate, University of Cape Town

Megan Murgatroyd grew up in England, finishing school in Truro, Cornwall. She completed a four-year BSc in Conservation Biology at the University of the West of England (UWE) in England in 2009. Her final year dissertation was entitled Metal Pollution in Bristol: An assessment using bird of prey feathers. During this year, she also spent time in Cuba gaining field experience assessing the biodiversity in forests and coral reefs and the impacts of hurricanes on these habitats.

Her first interaction with the ADU had been in 2007/08, when she was field assistant to PhD student Justine Braby in the Namib Desert, north and south of Lüderitz, Namibia. She proved herself a great asset to Justine's research project, which assessed the effects of diamond mining on the breeding success of the Damara Tern. She quickly learnt the skills of finding Damara Tern nests in featureless desert saltpans – this is one of the really difficult species for which to locate nests. This fieldwork was part of her formal coursework at UWE, the "sandwich year" when all the students on this course undertake projects relevant to their studies.

After she graduated, she did fieldwork on various research projects. She spent the 2009 Little Tern breeding season as a warden on a project protecting the colony at Kilcoole, Co. Wicklow, Ireland. The Bird Watch Ireland project aimed to minimise human disturbance, promote public awareness and monitor the breeding performance of the colony. This included identifying causes of predation, taking action to reduce losses and gathering data on Little Tern ecology.

In 2010, she travelled overland on public transport from Addis Ababa to Cape Town. It took four months: "This experience put me in touch with a vast range of people and environments. It opened my eyes to a scope of possibilities." Once in the Western Cape, she worked on an olive farm outside Worcester. She volunteered to assist with the servicing of camera traps of the Cape Leopard Trust's Boland Project in the Limietberg Nature Reserve. One thing led to another, and in 2011 she registered for an MSc at the University of Cape Town to look at the effects of land use on the ecology of the Verreaux's Eagle. In 2012, Megan's MSc project was upgraded to a PhD. From 2011-2014 she undertook fieldwork in the Cederberg and the adjacent Sandveld and has recently submitted her thesis. She is supervised by Les Underhill and Arjun Amar.


  • –present
    PhD candidate, University of Cape Town

Grants and Contracts

  • 2018
    PhD candidate
    Funding Source:
    National Research Foundation