Marine ornithologist who studies ACAP-listed albatrosses and petrels is appointed Director of the prestigious Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology

Professor Peter Ryan has been appointed Director of the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology at South Africa’s University of Cape Town with effect from the beginning of the month.  Peter has been Acting Director of the “Fiztitute” since the untimely passing last year of its previous Director, Philip Hockey.

Peter is a graduate of the University of Cape Town (UCT).  Following a First Class Zoology Honours he completed his MSc (on plastic pollution in seabirds) and his PhD (on the endemic finches of Triston da Cunha’s Inaccessible Island) at UCT.  After a post-doc in California, he returned to South Africa to take up a lectureship post in the Institute in 1993.

Peter Ryan poses with the flag of Tristan da Cunha on the top of Stoltenthoff Islet with Nightingale Island in the background

Photograph by Tristan Islander Norman Glass

For the last two decades, Peter has been in charge of the FitzPatrick Institute’s research programmes on ACAP-listed and other seabirds at South Africa’s Prince Edward Islands in the southern Indian Ocean and on the Tristan islands, especially Gough and Inaccessible, in the South Atlantic, as well as at sea in the Southern Ocean.

His long-term research on the endemic and ACAP-listed Spectacled Petrel Procellaria conspicillata of Inaccessible has first shown the petrel is specifically distinct from the White-chinned Petrel P. aequinoctialis, and then has shown that its population is steadily increasing, allowing it be downlisted from Critically Endangered to Vulnerable in 2007 by BirdLife International.

Spectacled Petrels on Inaccessible Island, photographs by Peter Ryan

Peter Ryan has served on the ACAP Advisory Committee’s Taxonomic Working Group since its inception.

For more information on Peter Ryan’s ornithological career, including a full publication list click here.

Selected Literature:

Reid, T.A., Ronconi, R.A., Cuthbert, R.J. & Ryan, P.G. 2014.  The summer foraging ranges of adult Spectacled Petrels Procellaria conspicillata.  Antarctic Science 26: 23-32.

Ryan, P.G. & Moloney, C.L. 2000.  The status of Spectacled Petrels Procellaria conspicillata and other seabirds at Inaccessible Island.  Marine Ornithology 28: 93-100.

Ryan, P.G. & Ronconi, R.[A.] 2011.  Continued increase in numbers of Spectacled Petrels Procellaria conspicillata. Antarctic Science 23: 332-336.

Ryan, P.G., Dorse, C. & Hilton, G.M. 2006.  The conservation status of the Spectacled Petrel Procellaria conspicillata.  Biological Conservation 131: 575-583.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 11 March 2014

The Agreement on the
Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

ACAP is a multilateral agreement which seeks to conserve listed albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters by coordinating international activity to mitigate known threats to their populations.

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