Department of Botany & Zoology, University of Stellenbosch, Private Bag X1, Matieland, 7602 South Africa


Contact details:

Dr. Petra Wester

Department of Botany & Zoology
University of Stellenbosch
Private Bag X1
Matieland 7602
South Africa

Tel: +27 21 808-3232
Fax: +27 21 808-2405


Petra Wester

  Dr Petra Wester

My principal research interests lie in the field of plant-pollinator interactions. The Cape area of South Africa with its spectacular species richness and floral diversity provides a great opportunity to study the role of pollinators in plant reproduction reflecting evolutionary and ecological processes that form biodiversity.

Current research projects
I am currently investigating the role of pollinators in hybridsation at the example of South African Salvia species (Lamiaceae). In the Western Cape two hybrid swarms of three different Salvia species occur: between two bird-pollinated parents and between a bee-pollinated and a bird-pollinated parent. Birds and pollen collecting bees (mainly honeybees) contribute to the breakdown of reproductive isolation.


Furthermore, I am studying the rare phenomenon of small mammal pollination and the characters of plants being adapted to rodents and elephant-shrews. One example is the Pagoda lily Whiteheadia bifolia (Hyacinthaceae) on which I conducted the first observations of nocturnal rodent pollination under natural conditions in South Africa. I also could show that elephant-shrews consume nectar and are pollinators of this plant species.




2007 - present: Post-doctoral researcher, Department of Botany and Zoology, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa (Research fellowship of the Claude Leon foundation, Cape Town)

2001 - 2007: Research associate, Institut für Spezielle Botanik und Botanischer Garten, Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz, Germany, PhD: Ornithophily in the genus Salvia

2000 - 2001: Research associate, Department of Ecology, University of Osnabrück, Germany, BMBF (Federal ministry of education and research)-project ‚Inland sand ecosystems – dynamics and restitution’

1999: Diploma (Biology), Thesis: ‘Chemotypes of wild-thyme (Thymus pulegioides L., Lamiaceae) and their relations to spatially associated plants in a limestone grass-land (Hämmersberg/Northern Eifel/Western Germany)’; Institute of Agronomic Botany, Department of Geobotany and Nature Conservation, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-University, Bonn, German


Contact details
Dr. Petra Wester
Department of Botany and Zoology
Stellenbosch University
Private Bag X1
Stellenbosch 7602
South Africa


Contact 021 808 2173 for more information