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​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Centre for Aquatic Research

Since its founding almost 40 years ago, the Department of Zoology has been at the forefront of aquatic research in South Africa. Over the last 20 years, a group of scientists in the department have developed a branch of aquatic research into the field of freshwater and estuarine ecotoxicology. Ecotoxicology is the science that studies the influence of human activities (from global, e.g. global warming to a more local perspective, e.g. multiple stressors in the Vaal Barrage) on the environment.

Introduction

Centre for Aquatic Research members and associates during a research fieldtrip to the Okavango River. Back row: Prof Nico Smit, (NWU); Dr Steve Mitchell, Mr Gordon O'Brien (PhD student); Prof Victor Wepener; Dr Glyn Howatson (Research fellow); Mr Ruan Gerber (PhD student); Dr Richard Greenfield.  Front row: Dr Wynand Vl​ok (Research fellow); Prof Johan Van Vuren, Dr Jan Roos (Research fellow).

Since its founding almost 40 years ago, the Department of Zoology has been at the forefront of aquatic research in South Africa. Over the last 20 years, a group of scientists in the department have developed a branch of aquatic research into the field of freshwater and estuarine ecotoxicology. Ecotoxicology is the science that studies the influence of human activities (from global, e.g. global warming to a more local perspective, e.g. multiple stressors in the Vaal Barrage) on the environment.

Research in the department has been active in all disciplines of ecotoxicology ranging from toxicant identification and environmental distribution (i.e. quantify and qualify levels) to biological / environmental effects (i.e. at different levels of biological organization from subcellular to ecosystem responses) to management implications (e.g. through ecological risk assessment paradigm). Current researchers participating in CAR are a blend of experienced (NRF-rated) and upcoming researchers. Each participant contributes a specific field of expertise that, when combined creates the most comprehensive research group of its kind in Africa.

Currently the research centre consists of four faculty members, three researchers, one short course coordinator, one post-doctoral fellow, three research fellows and 35 full- and part time postgraduate students. Training and services within the niche are represented at three different levels; i.e. research-based Masters and PhD projects, a tutored Masters programme in riverine and wetland ecology in conjunction with the UNESCO/Flemish Government/WRC funded FETWater programme and specialist aquatic consulting services through Econ@UJ.  

The centre is headed by Prof Victor Wepener, who leads the ecological risk assessment component of the research. Prof Johan van Vuren leads the ecophysiological and biomarker research and is actively involved in EDC research activities. Dr Ina Wagenaar leads the histopathology research, while Dr Martin Ferreira is responsible for the ecologically-related research activities. Some of the research activities that have been initiated within the niche since 2009 include international collaboration with the Centre for Marine Environmental Research and Innovative Technology, City University of Hong Kong on the application of artificial devices in environmental monitoring of marine waters (Prof Wepener), developing an EU-COST Action project entitled “Quality Assessment of Fish Gametes” (Dr Wagenaar), assessing the aquatic effects of pharmaceuticals associated with cattle feedlots in conjunction with the Faculty of Veterinary Sciences, Hokkaido University (Prof van Vuren) and large-scale interdisciplinary and inter-institutional projects on tigerfish biology in the Kruger National Park (Water Research Commission) and Lake Pongolapoort Dam (IRD-Aires du-Sud) in conjunction with the Water Research Group at Northwest University under the leadership of Prof Nico Smit.

To date, three research associates have been included as part of the research strategy of the Centre. They are Dr Glyn Howatson (University of Northumbria – stress physiology), Dr Wynand Vlok (BioAssets Consultants – fish ecology) and Dr Niel Bruce (Queensland Museum – invertebrate taxonomy) and their main role in CAR is to assist with training and supervision of postgraduate research projects. Dr Vlok and Dr Jan Roos are involved in the tutored MSc (FETWater) programme and assist with student supervision in this programme. ECON@UJ members (Martin Ferreira and Wynand Malherbe) are responsible for the applied component of the research in the Niche. Their involvement also crosses to the teaching and fundamental research side of the Centre where they assist in the supervision of students involved in CAR projects and the FETWater programme.

Members

 

Collaborators

 

Research Projects


 

Students

MSc StudentsTutored MSc StudentsPhD Students
Byron BesterGustave Ololo
Courtney Cook
Amanda MooneySerge KangaKerry-Ann Hadfield
Tanyn JamesJackie JayToyin Olubambi
Bertus FourieMathew Ross
Leandra KrugerBridget Shaddock
Justinus ShadungLiesel Whitlow
Erhardt Joubert​Tarryn-Lee Botha
Alvar KoningLungile Lukhele
​Warren AkenDumsile Nyembe
​Andre Hoffman​Melusi Thwala
​Ruan Gerber
Charon Far​quharson