Dr Lizaan De Necker

Dr Lizaan de Necker
Dr Lizaan de Necker

Research Interests:

Freshwater ecology and biodiversity in southern Africa in the face of climate change.

Position: Professional Development Programme Postdoctoral Fellow: South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity; Postdoctoral Research Fellow: Water Research Group, Unit for Environmental Sciences and Management, North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus.

Dr Lizaan completed her undergraduate and Honours degrees in Zoology and her Masters in Aquatic Health at the University of Johannesburg where her projects focused on the ecology and biodiversity of aquatic invertebrates in wetland ecosystems in the lower Phongolo River of northern Kwa-Zulu Natal. She went on to do her PhD at North-West University where she explored the present environmental state of the lower Phongolo River and its associated floodplain ecosystem and assessed the potential effects drought and anthropogenic pressures may have upon it. She accomplished this with the use of multiple lines of evidence, including a 40-year water quality assessment, biodiversity monitoring of fish and aquatic invertebrates, field-based mesocosm assessments, and stable isotope analysis.

Dr Lizaan’s joined SAIAB in 2020 as a Professional Development Programme Postdoctoral fellow, and her research encompasses freshwater riverine, floodplain and wetland habitats in southern Africa with particular focus on the ecology, food web structure and biodiversity of fish and aquatic invertebrates of these ecosystems. This has applications for the management and conservation of these ecosystems as they are severely under threat by not only humans, but by future predicted climate change as well.

Presently, Dr Lizaan is working on a Water Research Commission-funded project on the present and future predicted distribution of schistosomiasis (bilharzia) transmitting snails and their parasites in South Africa. The goal is to address the lack in knowledge regarding the present distribution of schistosomiasis, using a combined field and desktop-based study approach. The study also aims to determine whether the ranges of schistosomiasis intermediate host snails and their associated parasites have changed in the past half century and to investigate whether this may further expand or change, given future predicted climate change. This project also works towards assessing the existing knowledge, attitudes, perceptions and practices surrounding schistosomiasis in endemic communities. This research will provide updated information on the present and potential future distribution of schistosomiasis in South Africa as well as public health associated with the disease, and exposure risk. This will may aid in informing policy and decision makers of the potential risks that climate change poses to humans and their livestock, particularly through changing ranges and increased occurrences of schistosomiasis.

Dr Lizaan is part of a multi-disciplinary FBIP-NRF-funded research project named REFRESH that focuses on reassessing seven freshwater aquatic species found in South Africa with the aim of contributing to better conservation of these species in national policies. She is part of the research team studying freshwater molluscs as well as a member of the management team. This is a large collaborative research project involving over 30 team members from more than eight research, academic and government institutes across South Africa.



Institution and location


BSc. Zoology and Human Physiology

University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg


BSc. (Hons) (cum laude) Zoology

University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg


MSc. (cum laude) Aquatic Health

University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg


PhD. Environmental Sciences

North-West University, Potchefstroom



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