Prospective students (from Mandela University or elsewhere) interested in terrestrial botany or molecular œcology should contact me directly to discuss academic interests and potential projects (3rd year to PhD). I strongly encourage postgraduate students to develop their own research systems in addition to collaborating with me on current study systems. A typical postgraduate student will have the opportunity to conduct fieldwork, potentially do molecular lab work, and run ecological laboratory or field experiments. Students should integrate across several of these fields in their thesis projects.
Please note that a list of of potential student funding sources is available here.
Wand plant architecture
Throughout the Cape Floristic Region, in a range of local environments, can be found a distinctive growth form: “wand” plants. This curious plant architecture comprises perennial plants which have slender (wand-like) stems that extend high above the matrix vegetation. We have published this paper on the topic: Bailey et al. (2019), but there is still much work to be done, including:
- Testing alternative hypotheses posited in Bailey et al.
- Developing specific metrics to for comparisons amongst wand plants and with non-wand plants.
Thicket restoration: Soil Temperature
Thicket degradation exposes the soils to high temperatures. To what degree these temperature affect root development, seedling establishment etc. etc. is largely unexplored. This project would compare below-ground and above-ground temperatures across intact, degraded and restored spekboom-veld using an array of iButtons.