Core Team Members
Prof. Marcus Byrne is an entomologist in the School of Animal Plant and Environmental Sciences at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. He works on biological control insects, particularly those used in the control of alien invasive plants, and the behaviour and physiology of dung beetles.
Prof. Christian Chimimba is a lecturer in the Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of Pretoria. His research interests include African small mammal evolutionary and biosystematics research focusing on rodents of medical, veterinary, economic, agricultural, and of biodiversity/conservation concern.
Prof. Susana Clusella-Trullas is a physiological ecologist at the C·I·B. Her research combines theory, laboratory and field work to examine physiological responses of organisms to changing environmental conditions, with a strong focus on thermal biology. Her interests include climate change impacts on indigenous and invasive species and the interactive effects of climate and invasion. Additional research addresses patterns of physiological traits at large spatial scales and bottom-up modeling approaches.
Prof. Colleen Downs has been at the University of KwaZulu-Natal since 1994. Her research interests are broad and multidisciplinary. They include the conservation, general biology and ecophysiology (particularly nutrition, digestive physiology and thermal biology) of terrestrial vertebrates in unpredictable environments. She has been appointed as the South African Research Chair in Ecosystem Health and Biodiversity in KZN and the Eastern Cape.
Prof. Karen Esler is Head of Department for Department of Conservation Ecology, Stellenbosch University. The overall goal of her research is to understand how drivers of change (climate change, over-exploitation, habitat fragmentation and alien invasion) influence population and community structure and processes in fynbos and Karoo vegetation. The applied aspect of this work has been to advise on aspects of restoration and conservation.
Dr. Llewellyn Foxcroft is a scientist in the South African National Parks Conservation Services division, based in Skukuza, Kruger National Park. His main research interests are in alien plant invasions, investigating the processes and patterns of invasion, and the links to management interventions. He also has wide ranging interests in conservation biology, as well as strategic adaptive management frameworks. He is editor of the journal Koedoe: African Protected Area Conservation and Science.
Prof. Cang Hui is a South African Research Chair (SARChI) in Mathematical and Theoretical Physical Biosciences, based at Stellenbosch University in the Department of Mathematical Sciences and co-affiliated with the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) at Muizenberg in Cape Town. His research interests are proposing models and theories for explaining emerging patterns of biodiversity, networks and traits in ecology and evolution.
Dr. Sabrina Kumschick is a researcher at the C·I·B, funded by the Invasive Species Programme of the South African National Biodiversity Institute. She mainly focuses on the analysis of risk of alien species and their impacts on the environment and economy where they are introduced. She has also developed a method to compare highly diverse impacts between different alien taxa which can aid prioritisation for management and policy development.
Prof. John Measey is a senior researcher at the C·I·B at Stellenbosch University. His research centres on ecological investigations incorporating a wide range of techniques to address hypotheses in evolution, conservation and population biology. John is Editor-in-Chief of the African Journal of Herpetology.
Dr. Thabiso Mokotjomela is the Regional Co-ordinator (Free State and Northern Cape Provinces), SANBI Biological Invasions Directorate. He will oversee the National Invasive Species Programme which aims to detect and document new invasions; assess the risk these species pose to South Africa and attempt eradication of high risk species with limited distribution. He will also co-ordinate the implementation of (1) risk analysis' recommendations to prevent further legal introductions; and (2) national species eradication plans as outlined in the species-specific management plans.
Dr Sebataolo Rahlao is Scientific Manager – Conservation Research and Assessment at Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife. His research interests are on institutional and systems issues that facilitate or hinder science-based decision making on understanding and managing biological invasions.
Prof. Dave Richardson was Director of the Centre for Invasion Biology 2012-2022 and is a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Botany & Zoology at Stellenbosch University. His research focuses on the ecology and management of plant invasions and on principles in invasion science. Dave is author/co-author of over 475 peer-reviewed journal papers and book chapters. He is (co)author of several books, including Invasion Dynamics (2017) and Invading Ecological Networks (2021) (co)edited several books, including Biological Invasions in South Africa and Plant Invasions: The Role of Biotic Interactions (both 2020).
Prof. Tammy Robinson-Smythe holds a Research Chair in Management of Invasions in Protected Areas. With a background in marine ecology she has worked on the spread, impacts and management of invasions. She holds a special interest in the nexus between climate change and invasions.
Dr Sheunesu Ruwanza is a senior lecturer in the Department of Environmental Science at Rhodes University, whose research combines field and laboratory work on cost effective ecological restoration options following removal of invasive alien plants such as Acacias and Eucalyptus. His overall research goal is to understand ecological restoration models that facilitate effective ecosystem recovery and control of invasive alien plants. He also researches issues on plant-soil interactions and plant-plant interactions in the field of ecological restoration and global change ecology; and the utilisation of both invasive alien and native plants by poor communities. Dr Ruwanza works closely with local stakeholders such as the Working for Water (WfW) Programme (to develop a cost effective clearing and ecological restoration options), and with Lapalala Wilderness (to examine soil and native species recovery in old agricultural fields based on successional and alternative-state restoration models).
Prof. John Terblanche is a Full Professor in the Department of Conservation Ecology and Entomology at Stellenbosch University and has established an international track record in the field of insect physiology. His other research interests are evolutionary and comparative physiology, agricultural pests and disease vector responses to climate change.
Prof. John Wilson is the science lead for the South African National Biodiversity Institute's Directorate Of Biological Invasions. He is based at the Department of Botany and Zoology, Stellenbosch University. He is interested in the ecology and evolution of biological invasions, how humans have influenced these processes, and how we can improve the science-base for management and legislative decisions.
Dr. Tsungai Zengeya is a researcher in the Directorate of Biological Invasions, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI). His research interests are in aquatic ecology with a primary interest in understanding the impacts of, and managing and preventing biological invasions.
Brian van Wilgen
Brian van Wilgen is an Emeritus Professor at Stellenbosch University and Emeritus core team member of the Centre for Invasion Biology, based at Stellenbosch University. He has broad interests in applied ecology, and his research focusses on fire ecology and management, and the ecology and management of invasive alien plants. He was lead editor of an encyclopaedic multi-authored book on biological invasions in South Africa, which was published Springer’s “Invading Nature” series in 2020.