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Madagascar – Exploring the 8th Continent

Our Presenter:

Jeff Skevington is a lifelong naturalist and has been looking at insects and birds since he was about 7 years old. He is a Research Scientist and the Head of Diptera (flies) at Agriculture Canada’s Canadian National Collection of Insects in Ottawa.

The Presentation:

Madagascar is an ancient island that is considered by many biologists to be old enough and divergent enough to be considered a separate continent. The endemic diversity is enormous with over 83% of the plant species, 84% of terrestrial vertebrates and 86% of invertebrate species found nowhere else! You may have seen Attenborough’s videos on Madagascar and assumed that you could never go there as it is too remote and expensive. Jeff always assumed that too until a friend went and hired a local guide to do all of the organization for a trip. Jeff followed his friend’s lead last year and had a marvellous time exploring this spectacular island for ~CAD$3500 per person. Less than 10% of the native forest remains on the island so it is critical that we do what we can to encourage it to be preserved. Visiting and hiring local guides is one way to help.

Our focus was on birds but this talk will include information on many aspects of natural history as well as logistics relevant to anyone interested in visiting. Come on out and learn a bit more about Madagascar and if you have been, come on out to revisit some of the exciting things you have seen and share some of your memories with the rest of the group.

If you have any questions or photos about Madagascar or about flower flies (the focus of Jeff’s work), feel free to bring them to share with Jeff and other club member and guests.

Biography:

Jeff Skevington is a lifelong naturalist and has been looking at insects and birds since he was about 7 years old. He is a Research Scientist and the Head of Diptera (flies) at Agriculture Canada’s Canadian National Collection of Insects in Ottawa. His focus there is on the taxonomy and phylogenetics of flower flies (Syrphidae) and big-headed flies (Pipunculidae). He has published over 100 scientific papers on these animals and trained a number of students through Carleton University, Trent University and University of Guelph where he serves as an Adjunct or Associate Professor. One of Jeff’s current projects, a ‘Field Guide to the Flower Flies (Hover Flies) of Northeastern North America’, is expected to be published by Princeton University Press in March 2019.