Honours Students

Erin Ramsey

Department of Botany and Zoology

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Erin is a currently completing her honours degree with Prof Guy Midgley as her primary supervisor. She is investigating water and carbon flux of three dominant Proteaceae species in the Jonkershoek catchment over the course of the day, as well as how these patterns fluctuate through the year. Since there is also a water and carbon flux tower in this area, she will be comparing these results to the overall footprint of this section of Jonkershoek. This will allow her to determine the efficiency of these species with regards to water and carbon use, as well as how they fit in their respective ecological niches.
This area of study may be able to contribute to the understanding of water and carbons budgets of these species, which will be important to understand how they may react to the predicted change in climate, in the future.

Marc Butler

Department of Botany and Zoology

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Marc is currently completing his honours under the supervision of Guy and Heath. He will be researching how the different modes of predation have influenced herbivore behavior and vegetation dynamics in Tswalu Kalahari Reserve over the past 20 years. Apex predators can have confounding effects on ecosystems, both direct and indirect, which involve very complex processes. However, there are very few studies that deal with this question, especially in savanna ecosystems. Understanding these effects can serve as an important tool to reserve managers and conservationists, in order to maintain a healthy and functioning ecosystem. ​

Jody Thorburn

Department of Botany and Zoology

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My name is Jody Thorburn, and I am currently doing my honours degree under the supervision of Prof. Susana Clusella-Trullas. My research project is focused on assessing the implications of applying generalised techniques, such as allometric relationships, to predict lizard surface area when estimating rates of water loss. To do so, I am capturing the surface area of a large diversity of lizards using a novel 3D scanning technique, and use the results to calculate how much error is generated from the frequently used generic equations. Additionally, the implications of erroneous surface area measurements on water loss rate estimations will be assessed. Climate change is intensifying at an unprecedented rate, increasing species’ vulnerability to extinction – especially ectotherms. Thus, the findings of this study may be able to contribute to improving estimations of lizard vulnerability to increasing climate change, and provide future researchers with a novel, accurate technique to capture surface area when studying water/heat loss in lizards, and possibly many other organisms.