Abstract: I will start with a brief overview of the importance of movement as an element of ecological adaptation to environmental change. I will then consider two examples, both involving birds, of the challenge of embedding an understanding of movement ecology in research on ecological responses. The first example will present some early findings about birds that breed on Heron Island, on the Great Barrier Reef. The second will focus on some of the more interesting findings from my decade of field research on African ducks, including the first-ever translocation experiment on Egyptian Geese. Ah, you may say; but yes – Egyptian Geese are not true geese. Even though only about half this seminar deals specifically with coral reefs, it will explore a branch of ecology that you may find fascinating even if you are primarily motivated by things that go plop or bubble bubble bubble. Overall, I will attempt to demonstrate that even organisms that appear to be well adapted to living in variable environments may in fact be less capable of modifying their movement behaviours in response to unfamiliar circumstances than we would expect; thus, intensive research and deep knowledge of organismal biology are needed before we can confidently predict which animals will be winners and which will be losers under climate change.
Biography: Graeme Cumming is a professor at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. He is originally from Zimbabwe and has lived in Townsville, with his wife and three children, since mid-2015. He runs a far-ranging and often interdisciplinary research program that focuses on understanding the relevance of spatial variation and system structure for the dynamics of complex systems.