Masters Students


Nolwethu Jubase

Nolwethu Jubase

Evaluating the effectiveness of citizen science to detect and report invasive species in Western Cape, South Africa

Observations by citizen scientists are important and have helped to build some valuable data collections and have contributed to several data management systems worldwide. Although citizen science programmes are commonly used to survey and monitor native species, more programmes are now targeting invasive species. However, very little research on the assessment of the effectiveness of citizen science to detect and report invasive species in South Africa has been carried out. Several data management systems exist to share information and data on invasive species (e.g. the South African Plant Invaders Atlas (SAPIA), data from municipal agents such as City of Cape Town (CoCT) face book page, Bodatsa, iNaturalist but these databases operate independently and are sometimes oriented toward particular taxonomic groups or regions. With this MSc project I aim to evaluate the effectiveness of citizen science to detect and report invasive species in the Western Cape, South Africa where I will (1) review invasive species reporting using different platforms and (2) assess the potential of different public awareness programs to increase citizen support to detect and report invasive species.

From August 2018

Stellenbosch University

with Ross Shackleton (U. Lausanne)


Marike Louw

Marike Louw

Counting chirps

With this MSc, I aim to evaluate how populations of a frog species endemic to the Cape Peninsula, Arthroleptella lightfooti, are affected by invasions of exotic woody vegetation. The Fynbos Biome contains more invasions of alien plants compared to any other vegetation type in South Africa. The presence of invasive woody species such as Pinus pinaster and Acacia saligna in the mossy seepage habitat of these frogs may have an effect on the population densities of the frog. Higher degrees of invasion by the plants may result in lower population densities of A. lightfooti. This hypothesis will be explored using an acoustic Spatially Explicit Capture Recapture method (aSECR). An array of microphones arranged around a recording device can capture the chirp-like calls emitted by male A. lightfooti. These calls can be analysed using aSECR (noting which microphones did and did not capture a particular call). Together with information such as the differences between the time of arrival (TOA) and signal strength (SS) of each call across the different microphones, the density of calling frogs can be estimated. With the current global decline of amphibian populations, mastering effective means to evaluate or monitor amphibian populations is quintessential for conservation efforts.

From January 2016 to February 2018

Stellenbosch University