Dr Megan Murgatroyd

PhD (UCT) 2016

Megan is a conservation biologist with HawkWatch International and also an Honorary Research Affiliate with us at the Fitz. Her work focuses on applied research and conservation of raptors, and her publications have ranged from investigating the illegal killing of hen harriers in the UK to describing the flight strategies of eagles in South Africa.

Megan completed her PhD in 2016, co-hosted by the Fitz and the Animal Demography Unit, on the ecology of Verreaux’s Eagles in natural and agriculturally transformed habitats. Her study investigated the differences in breeding productivity, diet and movement ecology of two contrasting populations. Broadly speaking, she found that eagles in the agriculturally transformed study area breed more successfully, have more diverse diets and do not appear to be under higher energetic demand than those in a natural environment.

Following this Megan spent two years as a Post-doctoral Fellow at the Fitz, working closely with Assoc. Prof. Arjun Amar to understand the risk which wind turbines can pose to Verreaux’s Eagles. Using GPS tracking data she built a predictive model which can determine the likelihood of collisions with turbine for this species on a fine spatial scale prior to construction of new wind energy facilities.

Megan also leads our research on understanding the population declines of Marital Eagles in Kruger National Park. This project is a collaboration between the Fitz, HawkWatch International and the Endangered Wildlife Trust.

Student supervision:

Conservation Biology MSc:

Merlyn Nkomo (current) The Influence of rainfall on the Verreaux's Eagle and their prey species in Matobo, Zimbabwe (Co-supervisor: Arjun Amar)
René Brink (2019). How well do buffer circles capture the ranging behaviours of territorial raptors? (Co-supervisor: Arjun Amar)
Daryl van der Merwe (2018). Investigating the effects of environmental variables on martial eagle breeding performance in the Kruger National Park.(Co-supervisor: Arjun Amar)


Slater, S.J., Dwyer, J.F. and Murgatroyd, M. 2020. Conservation Letter: Raptors and overhead electrical systems. Journal of Raptor Research 54(2): 198-203. https://doi.org/10.3356/0892-1016-54.2.198 

Murgatroyd, M.Redpath, S.M., Murphy, S.G., Douglas, D.J., Saunders, R. and Amar, A. 2019. Patterns of satellite tagged hen harrier disappearances suggest widespread illegal killing on British grouse moors. Nature communications, 10(1): 1094. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-09044-w

Murgatroyd, M., Photopoulou, T., Underhill, L.G., Bouten, W. and Amar, A. 2018. Where eagles soar: fine-resolution tracking reveals the spatiotemporal use of differential soaring modes in a large raptor. Ecology and Evolution 8: 6788-6799. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ece3.4189 

Murgatroyd, M., Roos, S. Evans, R., Sansom, A., Whitfield, D.P., Sexton, D., Reid, R., Grant, J. and Amar, A. 2018. Sex-specific patterns of reproductive senescence in a long-lived reintroduced raptor. Journal of Animal Ecology 87:1587-1599. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1365-2656.12880 

Leos-Barajas, V., Photopoulou, T., Langrock, R., Patterson, T.A., Watanabe, Y.Y., Murgatroyd, M. and Papastamatiou, Y.P. 2016. Analysis of animal accelerometer data using hidden Markov models. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 8: 161-173. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/2041-210X.12657 

Murgatroyd, M., Avery, G., Underhill, L.G., and Amar, A. 2016. Adaptability of a specialist predator: the effects of land use on diet diversification and breeding performance of Verreaux’s eagles. Journal of Avian Biology 47:834-845. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jav.00944

Murgatroyd, M., Underhill, L.G., Bouten, W. and Amar, A. 2016. Ranging behavior of Verreaux’s Eagles during the pre-breeding period determined through the use of high temporal resolution tracking. PLoS ONE 11: e0163378http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0163378

Murgatroyd, M., Underhill, L.G., Rodrigues, L. and Amar, A. 2016. The influence of agricultural transformation on the breeding performance of a top predator: Verreaux’s Eagles in contrasting land use areas. The Condor 118: 238-252. http://dx.doi.org/10.1650/CONDOR-15-142.1

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