I am a behavioural ecologist, ornithologist and PhD student at the FitzPatrick Institute for African Ornithology, University of Cape Town. I grew up in southern Tanzania and this biodiverse setting nurtured my passion for natural history and field research. I completed my undergraduate studies at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. During this period, I became fascinated in avian brood parasitism, co-evolutionary interactions and avian communication and I have conducted research exploring these topics. After returning to East Africa I worked on biodiversity surveys and aerial surveys of large mammals, while also keeping bees and experimenting with beekeeping techniques.
In 2016 I first went to northern Mozambique’s stunning Niassa Special Reserve for work on an aerial survey. In 2017 I returned to working there – in collaboration with Prof. Claire Spottiswoode – to study the remarkable mutualism between human honey-hunters and the greater honeyguides (Indicator indicator), that lead them to wild bees’ nests. I have been involved in honeyguide research since then and continue to be inspired by complex species interactions and the challenge of studying them using field experiments. It continues to be a profound privilege spending extended time with people who coexist alongside wildlife inside Niassa’s vast wilderness.
My current focus is on the ecology and economics of human-honeyguide cooperation and in particular, gaining a better understanding of the foraging behaviour and decision-making of both honeyguides and human honey-hunters at the population level. More specifically, I am looking at how the mutualism shifts the costs and benefits of honey-hunting, using spatial data for humans and measuring the rewards (wax, honey) for both parties. I am also testing whether honeyguides learn to recognise cheating honey-hunters, and whether they punish them?
With the help of a honey-hunting community I am collecting a wide range of data on natural honey-hunting journeys and their payoffs. I am trying to discover whether humans learn to recognise unskilled honeyguides, and whether they avoid them? I am also investigating questions relating to honeyguide-human communication, and the ecosystem effects of honey-hunting at a landscape level. Our multi-year dataset enables us to ask how honeyguides change human movement and foraging patterns.
Torney, C.J.*, Lloyd-Jones, D.J.*, Chevallier, M., Moyer, D.C., Maliti, H.T., Mwita, M., Kohi, E.M. & Hopcraft, G.C. 2019 A comparison of deep learning and citizen science techniques for counting wildlife in aerial survey images. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 10: 779-787
Torney CJ, Dobson AP, Borner F, Lloyd-Jones DJ, Moyer D, et al. (2016), Assessing rotation-Invariant feature classification for automated wildebeest population counts. Plos One 11: e0156342.
Lloyd-Jones, D.J. & Briskie, J.V. 2016 Mutual wattle ornaments in the South Island saddleback (Philesturnus carunculatus) function as armaments. Ethology 122: 61-71.
Khwaja, N. & Lloyd-Jones, D.J. 2015 Eurasian blackbird (Turdus merula) nest parasitised by song thrush (T. philomelos). Notornis 62: 41-44.
Lloyd-Jones, D.J. 2014 Ultrasonic harmonics in the calls of rock wren (Xenicus gilviventris). Nortornis 61: 165-169.