Projects with SAIAB’s Seascape Ecology Research Group
Two MSc and one PhD projects are available for zoology and/or ichthyology students. These projects are available from 2024 with full running costs, but students will have to apply to the National Research Foundation for bursary support (most institutional deadlines are near the end of June 2023).
MSc: Fish habitat associations in the marine bay region of the Knysna Estuary
Previous studies have highlighted the importance of the marine bay region of the Knysna Estuary as a nursery hotspot for marine fish species. Although there are several habitat types within this region (including unstructured sand and mud, seagrass, salt marsh and seaweed), habitat specific assemblages and hotspots are unknown. The aim of this study will be to examine fish assemblages associated with structurally complex habitats and to examine the nature of habitat usage by juvenile fish in the marine bay region of the Knysna Estuary.
MSc: Impact of warming and acidification on seagrass and macroalgae
This MSc project will assess the effects of warmer oceans and coastal acidification on subtidal seagrass (Zostera capensis) and macroalgae (Plocamium corallorhiza) via biomarkers including the health, growth, and photosynthesis of these primary producers. Biomarkers will give insight on the health of the individual, by measuring capacity of various physiological processes, after subjecting them to projected global change scenarios.
This project will be based at NMU’s Ocean Sciences Campus and is available for biology and/or botany students. The project is available from 2024 with full running costs but students will have to apply to the National Research Foundation for bursary support (NMU internal closing date 30 June 2023). To apply send brief CV and academic record to Lucienne Human firstname.lastname@example.org, Carla Edworthy email@example.com and Nicola James firstname.lastname@example.org by the 15th July.
PhD: Connectivity among different nursery habitats and ontogenetic shifts in Algoa Bay, South Africa
Identifying habitats as a valuable nursery areas relative to other juvenile habitats requires information on the successful recruitment of juveniles to the adult population (i.e. ontogenetic shifts), but quantifying this is not straightforward. Comparative data on the use of estuarine and marine habitats as nursery areas by marine species and the degree of connectivity between nursery habitats has also been lacking, particularly in South Africa. This study aims to provide important information about the residency, fidelity and movements of marine fish juveniles within seagrass habitats in estuaries and macroalgae habitats in the nearshore as well as ontogenetic movements to adult habitats (as an indicator of nursery habitat importance) within Algoa Bay.