African Honeyguides

Research on a remarkable
human-animal relationship

Susan Miller

David Lloyd-Jones


I am broadly interested in the application of science to conservation issues with a special interest in genetics. My doctoral research investigated the conservation challenges of managing lions on small reserves in South Africa, with a strong genetic component. I followed this with a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at the Veterinary Genetics Laboratory at the University of Pretoria studying the genetics of colour variants in the game industry before joining the FitzPatrick Institute at the University of Cape Town as a postdoctoral fellow in 2017 where I started applying my genetic knowledge to avian systems.

From January 2021 until March 2023 I took on the part-time role as Manager of the DSI-NRF Centre of Excellence at the Fitz while continuing to pursue research projects on Lesser Sheathbill genetics, avian malaria in Cape Sugarbirds and Orange-breasted Sunbirds, Australian Dingo population genetics and Lion metapopulation management.

In June 2023 I joined the African Honeyguide team to provide logistical, administration support as well as molecular genetics support for the honeybee component of the project.

Selected research outputs

(Please see Google Scholar for a full publication list)

  • Miller, S.M., Kotze, A., Harper, C.K., Bishop, J.M., Williams, V.L., Rossouw, C., Schoeman, J., de Bruyn, M., Dalton, D.L., Selier, S.A.J. 2023. Genetic diversity and origin of captive lion (Panthera leo) in South Africa: an assessment and comparison to wild populations. Conservation Genetics doi:10.1007/s10592-023-01530-5
  • Miller, S.M., Barnes, K.N., Bloomer, P., Ryan, P.G. 2021. Phylogenetic and morphometric variation of the Spike-heeled Lark Chersomanes albofasciata complex. Ostrich DOI:10.2989/00306525.2020.1839804


David presents at the Apimondia Africa Symposium

David Lloyd-Jones recently gave a talk on what honeyguides and honey-hunters have taught us about Niassa’s wild honeybee ecology at the Apimondia Africa Regional Symposium held in Durban. He was honoured to pay further tribute to Ricardo Guta and his contribution to bee research in Niassa Special Reserve. Many...

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In memory of our colleague Ricardo Guta

Ricardo Guta, our dear colleague and friend in our research team, tragically died on 1 December 2022 following a swimming accident in the Cape mountains. All our thoughts are with his wife, Lailat, and their children Adrielle and Piotr. Ricardo’s life was honoured by his colleagues in a memorial at the University of Cape Town on 9 December 2022. He will soon be laid to rest by his family in his home city of Beira, Mozambique.

Ricardo’s warm and generous personality and passion for natural history touched everyone he met. He was much loved and respected at Gorongosa National Park where he worked as an entomologist, at the University of Cape Town where he had just completed his MSc studies, and at the Niassa Special Reserve where we recently carried out a wonderful field trip together. Ricardo had just begun his PhD in our research team, studying the influence of honeyguide-human mutualism on honeybee ecology. We are heartbroken to have lost a wonderful scientist, conservationist and human being, and we miss him deeply.

Ricardo’s legacy will live on in our team as we remember his joy and optimism, and his remarkable capacity to bring people together.

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