Node Manager: Dr Nicky Allsopp
I started my research career in Fynbos with a focus on plant nutrition and especially arbuscular mycorrhizas. This was followed by a period of research and agricultural development in communal rangelands in South Africa with a specific focus on the Namaqualand region. With my appointment as a SAEON Node manager in 2008, the Fynbos Node was launched.
I have developed an interest over the years in the linkages between science and society. The problems facing society are complex and require interdisciplinary and intersectoral approaches to bring about change. Environmental observation and research are fundamental to understanding the impact of global change on the resources that underpin human well-being. However, I feel that in order for this knowledge to be effective in influencing change we need to integrate our projects into socio-ecological frameworks that address these issues from a wider societal perspective.
In my spare time I enjoy cycling and walking in mountains and struggling to grow vegetables in an arid environment filled with voracious wildlife.
Scientist: Dr Jasper Slingsby
My greatest vice is that I’m fascinated by almost anything, even more so if it relates to the natural environment. My current interest is in the processes that determine the composition and diversity of assemblages at various scales and, consequently, how these affect ecosystem function. In particular, I am interested in the ways in which human activities are changing these “assembly rules” and thus altering ecosystem function. With a background in systematics, ecophysiology and community ecology, I try to use as many tools at my disposal as possible to address these questions. My PhD work focused on the intersection of evolution and ecology, exploring the importance of ecological differentiation in the evolution and maintenance of fynbos plant diversity. As such I am a strong believer that, given its long history of relative stability, it is near impossible to understand fynbos and predict its response to global change drivers without considering the evolutionary context.
When not in the office you’ll find me on the mountain communing with my constituency, or on my surfboard avoiding all thoughts of trophic interactions in marine ecosystems. See my personal website here.
Data Scientist: Glenn Moncrieff
My research focuses on factors that control vegetation structure and function in disturbance-prone environments and using remote sensing and vegetation models to explore the impacts of global change on fynbos and savannas. I am passionate about using data to solve environmental problems and tell compelling stories that raise interest and increase public engagement with ecological issues. I enjoy sharing my knowledge and experience with data and modeling with young scientists and advocate strongly for the adoption of the tools and techniques used for open science and reproducible research. Outside of science, I dedicate all my spare time to my best friend and trusted advisor - my dog, Murray
Technical Officer: Abri de Buys
As Technical Officer at the Fynbos Node, I have mostly been involved in the Jonkershoek catchment monitoring programme where I am responsible for stream and meteorological data collection, site and equipment maintenance as well as equipment testing and calibration. In addition to the technical side of my job, I'm also involved in a research project on fog precipitation in fynbos catchments. Other functions I perform include procurement of field equipment and providing assistance to researchers. Before joining SAEON in November 2010, I was pursuing my interest in ecosystem ecology as a Staff Research Associate in a Landscape and Urban Ecology lab at the University of California: Davis. Here I assisted with projects on African savanna riparian boundary dynamics, atmospheric deposition across rural/urban gradients and linking stream water quality to land use and land cover in an urban ecosystem. I hold a B-Tech degree in Nature Conservation from Cape Peninsula University of Technology. Free time pursuits include reading on politics, economics, history and current affairs.
Present Post Doctoral Researchers
Post Doctoral Researcher: Martina Treurnicht
I am a plant ecologist exploring the relationships between plant performance and the environment as a basis for understanding biodiversity responses to ongoing global change. Notably, I study range-wide demographic- and functional trait variation of serotinous Proteaceae in the Cape Floristic Region biodiversity hotspot. My postdoctoral research at SAEON, working with Jasper Slingsby, focuses on quantifying climate-induced changes on demography, and working towards long-term monitoring of several Proteaceae species.
Post Doctoral Researcher: Brigitte Melly
I joined the Fynbos Node team in January 2017 after being awarded a DST-NRF Professional Development Programme (PDP) post-doctoral grant. I grew up in KZN, before moving to Rhodes University to study where I completed my BSc, BSc (Hons) and MSc in the Geography Department. I have worked on a variety of projects from mapping nature trails, to assessing water quality in a fjord, and finally, to mapping the habitat preferences of whales and dolphins. My PhD at NMMU took on a similar spatial “trend”, and involved identifying wetlands in the Port Elizabeth area (NMBM), and understanding patterns in distribution, structure and ecosystem functioning. In general, I like to consider myself a spatial ecologist, snce this tends to incorporate all my interests, and because I like maps! In my free time I also like to keep active and challenge myself in sports such as open water swimming, running, cycling, hiking (with a map), and any adrenalin sports.
I will be collaborating with the University of the Western Cape (UWC) on the long-term monitoring programme they have established in the Heuningnes River system, Agulhas Plain. This area has many unique and diverse terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, but there is limited published research to date, making this a key area to work in. I’ll be working on understanding the hydrological dynamics of the wetland systems along the Heuningness River system and its tributaries, and their vulnerability to global change. In addition, I will also be supporting existing student projects and management of the long-term data.
Post Doctoral Researcher: Julia Glenday
I am interested in flows and cycles of nature and how humans interact with them. I myself have been slowly flowing down the African coast for many years and have now found myself at the southern tip, in the Fynbos zone! I started my work as a researcher while in Kenya, where I measured carbon stocks and growth in vegetation and soils of various forest types across the country. I continued my tree-hugging, carbon cycling work in the eThekwini Municipality Environmental Management Department, Durban, where I was also involved in river health programmes. This inspired me to return to university to study hydrology and hydrologic modelling, which I applied to the Baviaanskloof catchment in the Eastern Cape. Here I used monitoring and modelling to predict the likely impacts of vegetation and river channel restoration on streamflow and groundwater supplies. Now at the SAEON Fynbos node I will continue research in ecohydrology, using monitoring data and hydrologic models to look at impacts of land management and climate change on water resources in various catchments in the Fynbos region.
I love being outdoors, hiking, climbing mountains, climbing trees, swimming in rivers, and swimming in the sea. If I'm not crunching numbers, that's where I'll be.
Past Post Doctoral Researchers
Post Doctoral Researcher: Chris Trisos
Post Doctoral Researcher: Nicola Stevens