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INCREASED COLLABORATION BETWEEN THE SOUTH AFRICAN NATIONAL BIODIVERSITY INSTITUTE (SANBI) AND THE C·I·B RESULTS IN A NEW STAFF MEMBER FOR THE C·I·B

In January 2009 the C·I·B signed an MOU with SANBI to increase collaboration on research projects. This initiative will be particularly important in the light of the new regulations on invasive species emanating from the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, 2004 (“NEMBA”). The C·I·B as a global leader in research on biological invasions can do much to conduct work that is highly relevant to SANBI in its role as the core agency responsible for co-ordinating data on invasive species and providing input to national management strategies. The collaboration also benefits the C·I·B, in that the closer links with SANBI facilitate more effective transfer of research results to the development of policy Ė one of the C·I·Bís key goals.

The C·I·B and SANBI are already collaborating on several research projects. For example, as part of the joint SANBI/Working for Water programme on early detection and rapid response, Dr. Jaco Le Roux and others at the C·I·B are working with Philip Ivey of SANBI to use molecular genetics to determine which varieties and cultivars of kangaroo paws (Anigozanthos species) from Australia are present in South Africa and which are invasive.

As part of the C·I·B/SANBI collaboration, the C·I·B welcomes Dr John Wilson as a research associate funded through SANBI. Dr Wilson will provide key scientific input into invasive species management decisions and create a secure link between the primary research and student training aims of the C·I·B, and the policy and management mandate of SANBI.

Examining Acacia paradoxa seed production on Table Mountain (Cape Town). Current work on managing this emerging invader involves a wide range of issues, including the analysis of its endophytes to understanding the role seed banks play in maintaining populations. From left to right Suzaan Kritzinger-Klopper (C·I·B), Dr. Alana den Breeˇen (C·I·B), and Dr Barbara Mashope of the Early Detection and Rapid Response Programme (SANBI).

John completed his PhD from Imperial College in London working on the population dynamics of the classical biological control agents of water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes). He continued his research on invasion biology during a one-year post-doc in Australia with CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) as part of the CRC for Australian Weed Management, before moving to South Africa to take up a post-doc position with Prof. Dave Richardson at the C·I·B. In his 4 years with the C·I·B he worked on a broad range of issues, including phylogenetic community ecology and the use of species names in internet search engines. John is currently interested in using Australian acacias as a model system for invasions, both in terms of targeting emerging invaders as part of the Early Detection and Rapid Response of Invasive Alien Plants Program of SANBI, and using molecular ecology as a tool to understand invasion pathways and the effects on biological control success as part of the C·I·B's collaboration with the Working for Water Programme.