Brendon Larson, a professor at the University of Waterloo in Canada, was a fellow in the C·I·B for three months from March through May 2014. Brendon has a background in ecology, but now conducts interdisciplinary social scientific research about invasive species, for example related to how to communicate about them and how different stakeholders evaluate them. He has also written philosophical papers about our conceptualization of invasive species, specifically in the context of the dramatic changes occurring to socio-ecological systems in the Anthropocene.
During his time in Stellenbosch, he gave lectures in the Department of Botany and Zoology seminar series and at the Cape Research Centre, and worked on two main research projects with C·I·B colleagues.
With Mirijam Gaertner, Dave Richardson, and others, he is writing a paper about how we might conceptualize invasive species differently in urban regions — with a case study about Cape Town — given their modified environmental conditions and diversity of stakeholders.
With Karen Esler, Heidi Prozesky, and Wendy Annecke, he is working on a reflective synthesis on the challenges faced by the Working for Water programme, specifically conceptual challenges that entangle social and ecological dimensions of invasive species management (for example, growing dependency on the presence of invasive species as a source of employment and for firewood).
He interacted with several other C·I·B affiliates during his visit and had long conversations on the conceptualization of invasive species in the Anthropocene with Bruce Webber who was visiting from CSIRO in Australia.
Overall, Brendon concludes that “People in the C·I·B were wonderful and welcoming and it was a pleasure to be able to interact with several colleagues on some interesting projects. My time here was a great opportunity to learn first-hand about the astounding biodiversity of the Western Cape as well as the challenges it faces.”