Dr René Navarro

PhD 2010: Energy budget and foraging behaviour of the Cape Gannet Morus capensis during the breeding season

Other websites: ResearchGate Profile; Photography

René Navarro was employed in 1990 by the Southern African Bird Atlas Project (later Avian Demography Unit) as a Scientific Research Officer. In 1999 he was re-appointed to a full-time post as IT Manager for the ADU. From January 2018 - August, 2020 this position was within the FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology. 

He completed a BSc at the Universidad Austral de Chile in 1979, and an MSc (Zoology) at the same university in 1985. Between 1980 and 1985, he was a teaching assistant at this university and worked on research projects relating to aquaculture and conservation. He was a diver on the 22nd Antarctic Expedition of the Chilean Antarctic Institute. He came to South Africa in 1986, and has done research on gannets as part of the Benguela Ecology Programme. In addition to his ornithological expertise, he has developed an extensive knowledge of computers and software. He is also a keen wildlife photographer.

René completed his PhD "Energy budget and foraging behaviour of the Cape Gannet Morus capensis during the breeding season" in 2010 at the University of Cape Town (Animal Demography Unit, Department of Zoology).

René's own research focuses on the ecology of seabirds and collaborates with archaeological researchers as data analyst. His current work is in the field of Biodiversity Informatics, which includes the development and maintenance of database systems, database-driven web applications (i.e Virtual Museum), and the statistical analysis of these complex data sets for publication in books and papers.

In 1999 the Royal Society of South Africa awarded the John F W Herschel Medal to the Bird Atlas Team, of which René was an integral part. Along with Les Underhill of the Avian Demography Unit, René was awarded SANCOR's "Marine and Coastal Communicator of the Year" for 2001, in the scientific category. This award recognised their contribution to communicating the impact of the Treasure oil spill to the public.

Peer-reviewed publications:
Note that PDFs for most publications are available here: ResearchGate Profile

  1. Little, R. and Navarro, R.A. 2019. Implications of geographical range changes and resultant sympatry for three Accipiter hawks on the Cape Peninsula, South Africa. Ostrich 90(2): 139-143. 
  2. Underhill, L.G., Mansell, M and Navarro, R. 2019  LacewingMAP -Progress report on the Atlas of African Neuroptera and Megaloptera, 2014 - 2019. Biodiversity Observations 10:1-21.
  3. Jerardino, A. and Navarro, R. 2018. Large-scale hunter-gatherer exploitation of marine resources in South Africa, Part 1: 'Kreefbaai C' megamidden, Lamberts Bay area.  South African Archaeological Bulletin 73 (208): 93–107, 2018.
  4. Jerardino, A. and Navarro, R. 2018.  Large-scale hunter-gatherer exploitation of marine resources in South Africa, Part 2: Grootrif and Malkoppan megamiddens, Lamberts Bay area. South African Archaeological Bulletin 73(208):108–125.
  5. Underhill, L.G., Loftie-Eaton, M. and Navarro, R. 2018.Odonata of the Kruger National Park. Biodiversity Observations 9.11:1-16.
  6. Underhill, LG, Loftie-Eaton, M and Navarro R. 2018. Dragonflies and damselflies of the Western Cape - OdonataMAP report, August 2018. Biodiversity Observations 9.7:1-21.
  7. Jerardino, A., Navarro, R., Orton, J., Button, R., Halket, D., Webley, L., Tusenius, M., Hoffman, T.M. and February, E. Late Holocene climatic and cultural variability at a focal point of settlement near Lamberts Bay, South Africa: test excavations at Soutpansklipheuwel. South African Archaeological Bulletin 73(207):13-34.
  8. Navarro, R.A., Meijer, H.A.J., Underhill, L.G. and Mullers, R.H.E. 2018. Extreme water efficiency of Cape Gannet Morus capensis chicks as an adaptation to water scarcity and heat stress in the breeding colony. Marine and Freshwater Behaviour and Physiology 51:1, 30-43. 
  9. Jerardino, A., Navarro, R.A. and Nilssen, P.J. 2016. Filling in the gaps and testing past scenarios on the Central West Coast: Hunter-gatherer subsistence and mobility at 'Deurspring 16' Shell Midden, Lamberts Bay, South Africa. South African Archaeological Bulletin 71(203):71-86.
  10. Navarro, R.A., Mullers, R.H.E., Meijer, H.A.J. and Underhill, L.G. 2015. Energy expenditure of free-ranging chicks of the Cape Gannet Morus capensis. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology, 88:406–415.
  11. Jerardino, A., Navarro, R.A. and Galimberti, M. 2014. Changing collecting strategies of the clam Donax serra Röding (Bivalvia: Donacidae) during the Pleistocene at Pinnacle Point, South Africa. Journal of Human Evolution 68:58–67.
  12. Rius, M., Clusella-Trullas, S., McQuaid, C. D., Navarro, R. A., Griffiths, C. L., Matthee, C. A., et al. 2014. Range expansions across ecoregions: interactions of climate change, physiology and genetic diversity. Global Ecology and Biogeography 23, 76–88.
  13. Mukherjee, A., Wilske, B., Navarro, R.A., Dippenaar-Schoeman, A. and Underhill, L. 2010. Association of spiders and lichen on Robben Island, South Africa: a case report. Journal of Threatened Taxa 24:815–819.
  14. Mullers, R.H.E. and Navarro, R.A. 2010. Foraging behaviour of Cape gannets as an indicator of colony health status. Endangered Species Research 12:193–202.
  15. Jerardino, A., Dewar, G. and Navarro, R. 2009. Opportunistic subsistence strategies among late Holocene coastal hunter-gatherers, Elands Bay, South Africa. Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology 4:37–60.
  16. Mullers, R.H.E., Navarro, R.A., Crawford, R.J.M. and Underhill, L.G. 2009. The importance of lipid-rich fish prey for Cape gannet chick growth: are fishery discards an alternative? ICES Journal of Marine Science 66(10), 2244–2252.
  17. Mullers, R.H.E., Navarro, R.A., Daan, S., Tinbergen, J.M. and Meijer H.A.J. 2009. Energetic costs of foraging in breeding Cape gannets Morus capensis. Marine Ecology Progress Series 393:161–171.
  18. Pichegru, L., Ryan, P.G., Le Bohec, C., van der Lingen, C.D., Navarro, R., Petersen, S., Lewis, S., van der Westhuizen, J. and Grémillet, D. 2009. Overlap between vulnerable top predators and fisheries in the Benguela upwelling system: implications for marine protected areas. Marine Ecology Progress Series 391:199–208.
  19. Jerardino, A., Horwitz, L. K., Mazel, A. and Navarro, R. 2009. Just before Van Riebeeck : Glimpses into terminal LSA lifestyle at Connies Limpet Bar , West Coast of South Africa. South African Archaeological Bulletin, 64(189), 75–86.
  20. Jerardino, A. and Navarro, R.A. 2008. Shell morphometry of seven limpet species from coastal shell middens in southern Africa. Journal of Archaeological Science 35:1023–1029.
  21. Barham, P.J., Crawford,R.J.M., Underhill, L.G, Wolfaardt, A.C., Barham, B.J., Dyer, B.M., Leshoro, T.M.,  Meëer, M.A., Navarro, R.A., Oschadleus, D,, Upfold, L., Whittington, P.A. and Williams, A.J. 2006. Return to Robben Island of African Penguins that were rehabilitated, relocated or reared in captivity following the Treasure oil spill of 2000. Ostrich 2006, 77(3&4): 202–209.
  22. Adams, N.J. and Navarro, R.A. 2005. Foraging of a coastal seabird: flight patterns and movements of breeding Cape gannets Morus capensis. African Journal of Marine Science 27(1):239–248.
  23. Machange, R.W., Jenkins A.J., and Navarro, R.A. 2005. Eagles as indicators of ecosystem health: is the distribution of Martial Eagle nests in the Karoo, South Africa, influenced by variations in land-use and rangeland quality? Journal of Arid Environments 63:223–243.
  24. de Waal, S.W.P., Branch, G.M. and Navarro, R.A. 2003. Interpreting evidence of dispersal by Haliotis midae juveniles seeded in the wild. Aquaculture 221: 299–310.
  25. Jerardino, A. and Navarro, R.A. 2002. Cape rock lobster (Jasus lalandii) remains from South African West Coast shell middens: Preservational factors and possible bias. Journal of Archaeological Science 29: 993–999.
  26. Schlatter, R.P., Navarro, R.A. and Corti, P.  2002. Effects of El Niño southern oscillation on numbers of Black-necked Swans at Rio Cruces Sanctuary, Chile. Colonial Waterbirds 25 (Special Publication 1):114–122.
  27. Jerardino, A., Navarro, R.A. and Nilsen, P.. 2001. Cape rock lobster (Jasus lalandii) exploitation in the past: estimating carapace length from mandible sizes. South African Journal of Science 97:59–62.
  28. Bennett, N.C. and Navarro, R.A. 1997 Differential growth patterns between successive litters of the eusocial Damaraland molerat, Cryptomys damarensis from Namibia. Journal of Zoology 214: 465–473.
  29. Allan, D.G., Harrison, J.A., Navarro, R.A., van Wilgen B. and Thompson,M.W. 1997. The impact of commercial afforestation on bird populations in Mpumalanga Province, South Africa - insights from bird-atlas data. Biological Conservation 79: 173–185.
  30. Berruti, A., Harrison, J.A. and Navarro, R.A. 1994. Seasonal migration of terrestrial birds along the southern and eastern coasts of southern Africa. Ostrich 65:54–65.
  31. Velásquez, C. and Navarro, R.A. 1993. The influence of water depth and sediment type on the foraging behaviour of Whimbrels. Journal of Field Ornithology, 64:149–157.
  32. Adams, N.J., Moloney, C. and Navarro, R.A. 1993. Estimated food consumption by penguins at the Prince Edward Islands. Antarctic Science 5:245–252.
  33. Navarro, R.A. 1992. Body composition, fat reserves and fasting capability of Cape Gannet chicks. Wilson Bulletin 104:644–655.
  34. Hockey, P.A.R., Navarro, R.A., Kalejta, B. and Velásquez, C.. 1992. The riddle of the sands: Why are shorebird densities so high in southern estuaries? American Naturalist 140:961–979.
  35. Navarro, R.A. 1991. Food addition and twinning experiments in the Cape Gannet: effects on breeding success and chick growth and behavior. Colonial Waterbirds 14:92–102.
  36. Navarro, R. A., Velásquez, C. and Schlatter, R. 1989. Diet of the Surfbird in Southern Chile. Wilson Bull. 101:137–141.
  37. Jaramillo, E., Mulsow, S. and Navarro, R.A.. 1985. Intertidal and subtidal macroinfauna in the Queule River Estuary, South of Chile. Rev. Chil. Hist. Nat., 58:127–137.

Conference proceedings

  1. Harebottle, D.M., R.A. Navarro, L.G. Underhill, and M. Waltner. 2006. Trends in numbers of migrant waders (Charadrii) at Langebaan Lagoon, South Africa, 1975–2003. In: Waterbirds around the World, Boere GC, Galbraith CA, Stroud DA (eds). The Stationary Office, Edinburgh: 376-378.
  2. * Harrison, J.A. and R.A. Navarro 1999. Protected areas in South Africa: the effect of size on the presence and abundance of woodland birds. In. N. J. Adams & R. H. Slotow (eds). Proc. 22nd International Ornithological Congress, Durban. Johannesburgo, BirdLife South Africa.
  3. * Underhill, L.G., M. Herremans, R.A. Navarro and J.A. Harrison. 1998. Where do Palearctic migrants passerines concentrate in southern Africa during the austral summer? In F. Spina & A. Grattarola (eds.) Proceedings of the 1st Meeting of the European Ornithologists' Union, 1997. Biol. Cons. Fauna 102:168–174.
  4. * Harrison, J.A. and R.A. Navarro. 1994. Modelled reporting rates as indices of changes in relative abundance with altitude and season. Pp. 607-618. Ed. E.J.M. Hagemeijer & T.J. Verstrael, Bird Numbers 1992. Distribution Monitoring and Ecological aspects. Statistics Netherlands, Coorburg/Heelen.
  5. * Navarro, R.A., J.A. Harrison, D.G. Allan and W. Zucchini. 1993. Correlating relative abundance and rainfall: a time-series analysis of checklists. Proceedings VIII Pan-African Ornithological Congress, 379–388.

Book chapters:

  1. * Jerardino, A., Klein, R. G., Navarro, R.A., Horwitz, L., Orton, J., and Booth, C. 2013. Settlement and subsistence patterns during the terminal Pleistocene and Holocene at the Elands Bay and Lamberts Bay areas. Pp. 85–108, in: Jerardino, A. & Braun, D. (Eds) The Archaeology of the West Coast of South Africa. Cambridge Monographs in African Archaeology, BAR International Series 2526.
  2. * Jerardino, A., G.M. Branch and R.A. Navarro 2008. Archaeological Perspectives on Human Impacts on Marine Resources of the West Coast of South Africa. . Pp. 279–296, in: Human Impacts on Marine Environments, Erlandson, J. M. & Rick, T. C. (Eds), Berkeley: University of California Press.
  3. * Alexander G.J., Harrison J.A., Fairbanks D.H. and R.A. Navarro 2004. Biogeography of the frogs of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. Pp. 31-47. In: Minter L.R., Burger M., Harrison J.A., Braack H.H., Bishop P.J. & Kloepfer D. (eds). Atlas and Red Data book of the frogs of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. SI/MAB Series no. 9. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
  4. * Allan, D.G., J.A. Harrison, M. Herremans, R.A. Navarro and L.G. Underhill. 1997. Southern African Geography: its relevance to birds. In: The Atlas of Southern African Birds Vol. 1: Non-passerines. Harrison, J. A. Allan, D. G., Underhill. L. G., Herremans, M., Tree, A.J., Parker, V. & Brown, C.J. (eds), pp. LXV-CI. BirdLife South Africa, Johannesburg.
  5. * Navarro, R.A. 1997. Greenbacked Heron. In: The Atlas of Southern African Birds Vol. 1: Non-passerines. Harrison, J.A., Allan, D.G., Underhill. L.G., Herremans, M., Tree, A.J., Parker, V. and Brown, C.J. (eds), pp. 70-71. BirdLife South Africa, Johannesburg. PDF (232 Kb)
  6. * Navarro, R.A. 1997. Dwarf Bittern. In: The Atlas of Southern African Birds Vol. 1: Non-passerines. Harrison, J.A. Allan, D.G., Underhill. L.G., Herremans, M., Tree, A.J., Parker, V. and Brown, C.J. (eds), pp. 76-77. BirdLife South Africa, Johannesburg. PDF (105 Kb)
  7. * Navarro, R.A. 1997. Openbilled Stork. In: The Atlas of Southern African Birds Vol. 1: Non-passerines. Harrison, J.A. Allan, D.G., Underhill. L.G., Herremans, M., Tree, A.J., Parker, V. and Brown, C.J. (eds), pp. 92-94. BirdLife South Africa, Johannesburg. PDF (644 Kb)
  8. * Navarro, R.A. 1997. Painted Snipe. In: The Atlas of Southern African Birds Vol. 1: Non-passerines. Harrison, J.A. Allan, D.G., Underhill. L.G., Herremans, M., Tree, A.J., Parker, V. and Brown, C.J. (eds), pp. 372-373. BirdLife South Africa, Johannesburg. PDF (206 Kb)

* Peer-review


  1. Young, D.J., J.A. Harrison, R.A. Navarro, M.D. Anderson, and B. D. Colahan (eds). 2003. Big Birds on Farms: Mazda CAR Report 1993-2001. Avian Demography Unit, Cape Town.
  2. Taylor, P.B., R.A. Navarro, J.A. Harrison, M. Wren-Sargent, and S.L. Kieswetter. 1999. TOTAL CWAC Report: Coordinated Waterbird Counts in South Africa. 1992-97. Avian Demography Unit, Cape Town.
  3. Oatley, T.B., Oschadleus, H.D., Navarro, R. A., and Underhill, L.G. 1998. Review of ring recoveries of bird of prey in Southern Africa: 1948-1998. Endangered Wildlife Trust, Johannesburg.

Research Reports:

  1. Burger M., Harrison, J.A. and Navarro, R.A. 2008. Environmental impact assessment for the proposed Bantamsklip transmission lines: environmental scoping report: fauna: mammals, reptiles, amphibians and freshwater fishes. Report for Arcus Gibb, Rivonia, and Eskom. JAH Environmental Consultancy, Plumstead.
  2. Harrison J.A., Burger, M., Dorse, C., Rothwell, E. and Navarro, R.A. 2006. Report on a survey of the Western Leopard Toad in Noordhoek, Cape Peninsula. Report for Noordhoek Conservancy and Noordhoek Environmental Action Group, Cape Town.
  3. Bruinzeel, L.W., R.A. Navarro, D.M. Harebottle and L.G. Underhill. 2006. Distribution of wild birds as potential avian influenza vectors in KwaZulu-Natal. ADU Research Report.
  4. Harebottle, D.M., Harrison, J.A., and Navarro, R.A. 2004. Conservation of Birds in Gauteng: an analysis. ADU Research Report 60. ADU, UCT, Cape Town.
  5. Harrison, J.A. and Navarro, R.A. 2001. Bird monitoring at Blouvlei, Century City, February 2000–January 2001. ADU Research Report 40. ADU, UCT, Cape Town.
  6. Harrison, J.A. and Navarro, R.A. 2000. Scoping report on the potential impact on birds of a new 400kV power line in the Northern Cape. ADU Research Report 38. ADU, UCT, Cape Town.
  7. Harrison, J.A., Spottiswoode, C.N. and Navarro, R.A. 2000. Bird monitoring at Blouvlei, Century City, January 1999-January 2000. ADU Research Report 36. ADU, UCT, Cape Town.
  8. Harrison, J.A., Spottiswoode, C.N. and Navarro, R.A. 1999. Bird monitoring at Blouvlei, Century City, February-December 1998. ADU Research Report 30. ADU, UCT, Cape Town.
  9. Harrison, J. A. Navarro, R.A. and Barnes, K.N. 1997. An analysis of the avifauna of Gauteng. ADU Research Report 22. ADU, UCT, Cape Town.
  10. Allan, D.G. Harrison, J. A. Navarro, R.A. and Martinez, P. 1995. The Redbilled Quellea and non-target birds – insights from Bird Atlas data. ADU Research Report 4. ADU, UCT, Cape Town.

Other articles:

  1. De Villiers, M., Bates, M.F., Burger, M., Harrison, J. and Navarro. R.A. 2010. The Southern African Reptile Conservation Assessment, 2005-2009. African Herp News 50:10–13.
  2. Navarro, R.A. 2004. Helm Field Guides - Birds of Chile including the Antarctic Peninsula the Falkland Islands and South Georgia. Ostrich, 75:77 (Book review)
  3. Mullers. R. and R.A. Navarro. 2004. How do Cape Gannet parents satisfy their young? Bird Numbers 12(2):35–37.
  4. Navarro, R.A. 2001. Cape Fur Seal predation on Cape Gannet fledglings. Bird Numbers 9(2):15–16.
  5. Navarro, R.A. 1998. Las aves de Bioko, Guinea Ecuatorial. Durban Museum Novitates, 23:72 (Book review)
  6. Navarro, R.A. 1997. Focus on gannets - a photographic portfolio. Africa – Birds & Birding, Vol. 1, No. 5. (Photographic assay)
  7. Navarro, R.A. and Velásquez, C. 1988. Comité de aves raras: una proposición a la Unión de Ornitólogos de Chile. UOCH Bol. Inf. 6:7–8.
  8. Navarro, R.A. 1984. [Computer program for numerical analysis of communities: diversity and similarity.] Medio Ambiente 7:82–87. (Spanish, English summary)