<i>Lloyd</i> <i>Spencer</i> <i>Davis</i> <i> — </i> <i>scientist</i>
<i>Lloyd</i> <i>Spencer</i> <i>Davis</i> <i> — </i> <i>scientist</i>
  • Banner Photo by Robin Johnstone 0

Lloyd Spencer Davis scientist


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Fulbright Award
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Anzac Fellowship
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Royal Society of New Zealand Prince and Princess of Wales Science Award


LSD has BSc and BSc(Hons) First Class degrees in Zoology from Victoria University of Wellington and a MSc degree in Zoology from the University of Canterbury. He was awarded a Canadian Commonwealth Scholarship, which took him to the University of Alberta in Edmonton, where he graduated with a PhD in Zoology in 1982. The subject of his doctoral thesis was the sociality and behavioral ecology of ground squirrels, which he studied in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies. His thesis was judged the Best Thesis in Zoology at the University of Alberta and he received the Runner's Up Award for the Best Thesis in Zoology in Canada for 1982.


He worked briefly as a scientist at Ecology Division of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR) in Havelock North, New Zealand, before being appointed as a Lecturer in the Department of Zoology at the University of Otago in Dunedin, taking up his position in February 1985. His time at Ecology Division was significant inasmuch as it marked the beginning of the filmmaking aspects of his career: he made a documentary about gannets at nearby Cape Kidnappers and the first Director of Ecology Division, Kazimierz Wodzicki, who studied the gannets for 40 years. The film was produced and directed by Lloyd as a co-production between DSIR and the then Natural History Unit of TVNZ. Fortuitously, the Natural History Unit, which eventually became NHNZ, was also located in Dunedin, allowing him to pursue filmmaking and academia at the same time.

His time at Ecology Division was significant for another reason too: it marked his return to Antarctica to continue his studies on Adelie penguins, which he began when doing his Masters thesis. After finding himself in Dunedin – arguably the penguin capital of the world, with two species breeding within the city's boundaries and another four species accessible nearby – it seemed only natural for LSD to continue his Antarctic studies on the behaviour and ecology of Adelie Penguins while at the same time developing research programmes for him and his students on the other penguin species closer to Dunedin.

Career Milestones

He has been on the editorial boards of Marine Ornithology and the New Zealand Journal of Zoology. He was a New Zealand representative on the International Ethological Council, the Bird Biology Subcommittee of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR), the International Ornithological Committee, and the Scientific Programme Committee for the 20th International Ornithological Congress.

To date, he has received many awards for his science and authored over 150 refereed publications, which have been cited by other authors over 5,000 times. Many of his publications are about penguins, though he has worked on the behavioral ecology of other animals too, including seals and sea lions, and, of course, the adorable ground squirrels that first peaked his interest in subjects like kin selection and behavioral ecology.

LSD still keeps a toehold in penguin research. However, if he were prone to the same expressions as an All Black captain, he might describe his career as "a game of two halves." From the beginning of the 21st Century, LSD began transitioning from scientist to science communicator.


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You can see the fruits of some of LSD's penguin research at the website he maintains on penguins and penguin research, PenguinWorld.com. The site can get over 45,000 visitors per month and there, under the guise of Professor Penguin, he answers questions from school children around the world as they carry our projects on penguins.

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