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July 10, 2012

Zoology Seminar Double Feature


Curator of Birds' Eggs & Nests, NHM


TUESDAY 17th July, 12pm

Neil Chalmers Science Seminar Room (DC.LG16)





Dr. George Murray Levick (1876-1956): unpublished notes on the Sexual Habits of the Adélie Penguin

100 years on from the British Antarctic 孴erra Nova Expedition's (1910) fateful conclusion, modern researchers can still re-visit, re-interpret and re-evaluate the expedition members' original notes and investigations.   Recently, an unpublished, forgotten work by the pioneer of research on Adélie Penguin biology, Dr. George Murray Levick R.N. (1876-1956) was rediscovered at the Natural History Museum (NHM) at Tring.   This extraordinary account of breeding behaviour in Adélie Penguins, based on his unique observation of the breeding colony at Cape Adare in the Antarctic summer of 1911-1912, was suppressed by the post-Edwardian academic world due to its challengingly frank discussion of seemingly aberrant, sexual behaviours.  Yet, Levick's rather shocking observations were accurate, valid and, with the benefit of hindsight, entirely deserving both of publication and interpretation.

I will talk about my own research on Levick and discuss a little of the penguin behaviour and resultant paper that the academic world of 1915 found impossible to objectively understand, discuss or even publish.



eBEAC: a new vision for the electronic Bulletin board for European Avian Curators

For over ten years curators and users of avian collections in Europe have been utilising the electronic Bulletin board for European Avian Curators (eBEAC): a simple but effective electronic mail discussion list, primarily intended for curators and collection managers of European museums.   Albeit successful, the system has, to date, been limited in its functionality by using a simple software interface (Mailman, the GNU Mailing List Manager) to provide an informal method of contacting, with a single email, ca. 140 curators and researchers from 112 institutions in 37 countries.


However, the years since eBEAC was launched have witnessed a revolution in web-based social software applications and web portals which allow far more sophisticated interactive communication and information dissemination.  A new version of eBEAC, building on the original system, includes such a website hosted by the Natural History Museum (NHM).  This web resource has been developed to improve the functionality of the system and aims to become the primary method of quickly exchanging detailed and reliable information among bird staff and users of European ornithology collections.   The new eBEAC interactive website incorporates information from Roselaar’s (2003) pioneering Inventory of major European bird collections to provide a central web-based inventory and interactive portal to the European bird collection resource.  Subscribers will have full access to the system and in time, importantly, update information on their own collections and thus provide accurate, up-to-date key information to both colleagues and users.




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