Honorary Members


(Representative at SANBI)

Prof Bettine Jansen van Vuuren
Department of Zoology, University of Johannesburg


My research interests are in the fields of conservation genetics, phylogeography and to a lesser extent molecular systematics. A variety of molecular markers and techniques are used to study relationships within and between taxa. The laboratory also provides a service to private landowners and conservation agencies. Our genetic screening of taxa (e.g. roan antelope, Heaviside dolphin, oribi) contributes to the description of the patterns of genetic variation among populations and species; information which provides wildlife managers with an evolutionary framework that may be useful in reassigning and formulating conservation priorities.


(Website Manager, Membership) 

Dr Corrie Schoeman
School of Life Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal

My research addresses classical and contemporary questions of ecology and evolution, encompassing entire groups of organisms, distributed at different scales in space and time. I pursue questions about the causes and consequences of biodiversity, from genes to ecosystems, in human dominated and natural landscapes of Africa and Madagascar. Generally speaking I ask three broad questions: 1) What factors govern broad-scale patterns in the distribution of small mammal biodiversity?; (2) What processes underlie the assembly of small mammal assemblages?; and (3) Do human-driven dynamics, such as urban river pollution and land use, affect the physiology and ecology of bats? Focus is on small mammals such as bats and rodents because their abundance and diversity, both from ecological and evolutionary perspectives, render them ideal bioindicators. My research bridges the domains of evolutionary ecology, biogeography and macroecology.

Immediate Past President

(SADC, ICZ 2020 Chair LOC, Representative IFM, ISZS, NSTF) 

Dr Sarita Maree
Mammal Research Institute (MRI), Department of Zoology and Entomology; Molecular Ecology and Evolution Program, University of Pretoria

My main research interests reside in the fields of molecular systematics, conservation and population genetics. Current research primarily focuses on golden moles (Chrysochloridae), one of Africa’s most threatened small mammals and one of only two families of subterranean mammals endemic to the continent. A molecular phylogeny are being generated for golden moles using mitochondrial and nuclear genes. The development of a microsatellite library for the Hottentot golden mole (Amblysomus hottentotus) is in progress and will be an invaluable tool for studying several aspects of the population genetics of the species on a regional and more localized scale. The results will be used as a model for the development of a comprehensive conservation action plan for golden moles in general, and more specifically, the threatened species that include 13 of 21 currently recognized species (IUCN SSC Afrotheria Specialist Group assessment 2005). Previous research projects involved behavioral ecology of bat-eared foxes (Otocyon megalotis), systematics of horseshoe bats (Rhinolophus sp.), African whistling rats (Otomys), vlei rats (Parotomys) and soft ticks belonging to the genus Ornithodoros.

Dr Kwezi MzilikaziHonorary Treasurer


Prof Colleen Downs
School of Life Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal

I am currently undertaking research on a number of projects. This includes: a study of the conservation and general biology of Cape Parrots; vertebrate responses to food availability in unpredictable environments – implications for their ecophysiology and conservation;energy and water turnover of nectarivores, herbivores and frugivores; nutritional and physiological effects of tannins; thermal physiology. I also have a great interest in science education especially problems experienced by second language life science university students. Appropriate teaching strategies are being developed to address these problems

Dr-Kwezi-MzilikaziHonorary Secretary

Dr Kwezi Mzilikazi
Human and Infrastructure Capacity Development (HICD), National Research Foundation

Ecophysiology and Evolutionary physiology with emphasis on endothermic vertebrate metabolic rates, energy expenditure, body temperature regulation, circadian rhythms, daily torpor and hibernation.

Journal Editors

Dr Carol Simon
Department of Botany and Zoology, Stellenbosch University
My research focuses on polychaetes their taxonomy and biology, and particularly how selected groups may affect cultured molluscs and how culturing of molluscs may affect them.  Molluscs are routinely infested by shell-boring polychaete worms belonging mainly to the families Sabellidae and Spionidae.  In the natural environment these worms contribute to the recycling of calcium carbonate, but under culture conditions they can become problematic. In South Africa, cultured abalone and oysters are infested mainly by three indigenous, two cryptogenic and one non-indigenous species. Thus my research focuses on the reproductive cycles, life history strategies and factors that influence reproductive output of the these worms in order to improve the effectiveness of treatment and control methods on farms; and the taxonomy of shell-infesting worms of wild molluscs in order to gain a greater understanding of their biodiversity and distribution in South Africa and to identify any species that might prove problematic in the future, the biodiversity of annelids around abalone farms and the genetic structure of infesting worms (particularly the non-indigenous species) to understand the spread of the worms both internationally and locally.

Prof Theresa Wossler
Department of Botany and Zoology, Stellenbosch University

My research focuses primarily on the highly eusocial honeybee but I also work on the more primitive ponerine ant which has lost it’s queen caste providing a unique system to study dominance hierarchies and reproductive regulation.

A large part of my research focuses on the chemical communication system within honeybee societies. The study of pheromones within the social insects is not a new discipline yet the influences of honeybee/ant semiochemicals are not fully understood. The BCRG (Behavioural and Communication Research Group) is interested in analysing and identifying, through gas chromatography/mass spectrometry, the signalling systems used by social insects in maintaining colony co-ordination and functioning. The approaches of quantifying the responses of honeybees to a particular signal are multi-faceted with behavioural and physiological analysis, experimental as well as fieldwork.

Understanding the various aspects of reproductive regulation and how they may interact with each other remains an enigma, and forms the underlying theme of my research interests.

Additional Members


(institutional, sponsors & spokespersons)

Dr Victor Rambau
Department of Botany and Zoology, Stellenbosch University

My research area broadly includes comparative cytogenetics (including molecular cytogenetics) and phylogeography of small mammals. My ultimate aim is to test the utility of characters defined by chromosomal landmarks to address evolutionary relationships among Rodents. Most critical in this endeavor is to unequivocally identify regions of homeology among taxa with the fluorescence in situ hybridization technique using a panel of commercially available chromosomes and species-specific flow sorted chromosomes as probes. The cytogenetic data is supplemented with mitochondrial nucleotide sequence data and skull morphometrics data (through an ongoing collaboration with Dr Peter Taylor at the Durban Museum of Natural History). This multidisciplinary approach is specifically aimed at clearly demarcating potential taxonomic boundaries in rodent species complexes (cryptic species). Furthermore, in collaborating with Prof Jeremy Searle ( University of York , UK ) we are investigating the colonization history of the British Isles by small mammals using the pygmy shrew, Sorex minutus, as a model.

Biodiversity & Facebook

Dr Mark Keith
Centre for Wildlife Management, University of Pretoria

danStakeholder engagement

Dr Dan M. Parker
Department of Zoology and Entomology, Rhodes University

My formative research centred around the feeding ecology of megaherbivores (giraffes and elephants) in the Eastern Cape. However, a research “gap year” working with Drs Andy Loveridge and Zeke Davidson ignited my interest in the larger carnivores of Africa. Nevertheless, I still maintain relatively broad research interests within the fields of community and macro-ecology and examples of some of my current projects are:
1) Large carnivore ecology;
2) Human-predator conflict; and
3) The foraging ecology of large herbivores.

Editors of the Aardvark

Dr. Sandi Willows-Aardvark (co-editor)

School of Life Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal


Dr. Heike Luttermann – Aardvark (co-editor)

Department of Zoology & Entomology, University of Pretoria


SACNASP, ICZ 2020 (Co-chair LOC)

Prof Peter Taylor


 Dr. Leigh Richards

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