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Susan Cunningham

Lecturer, Percy FitzPatrick Institute, University of Cape Town

Dr Susie Cunningham is a lecturer at the Percy FitzPatrick Institute, University of Cape Town. She has been involved in the research into the vulnerability of arid zone birds to climate change since 2010, initially as a post-doc with the late Prof. Phil Hockey and later as the lead researcher for the behaviour side of the "Hot Birds: desert birds and climate change" research programme. She works closely with Prof. Andrew McKechnie of the University of Pretoria (a core Fitz Centre of Excellence team member) on projects integrating behavioural and physiological approaches to understand the thermal biology of birds.

Susie is a New Zealander and completed her undergraduate degrees in Ecology & Biodiversity and Classical Studies at Victoria University of Wellington, and her PhD on tactile sensory systems in birds at Massey University in the Manawatu. She moved to South Africa in 2010 and spent her first field season in the Kalahari over the summer of 2010/11. The focus of Susie's work is on the relationship between thermal biology and behavioural ecology, in particular the fitness consequences of behavioural thermoregulation.


  • 2010–present
    Researcher in the vulnerability of arid zone birds to climate change , University of Cape Town


  • 2010 
    Massey University, PhD Ecology

Grants and Contracts

  • 2018
    Lecturer, Percy FitzPatrick Institute
    Funding Source:
    National Research Foundation