Ella Morran

Background

I completed my BSc and BSc Hons at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa. I completed two Honours research projects. The first focused on the effects of urbanisation on insectivorous bat species diversity in the Eastern Cape Province. The second project was a phylogenetic reconstruction of Grass frogs (Genus: Ptychadena). I am now a Masters student in the C·I·B at Stellenbosch University.

Current research

The focus of my MSc research is understanding the effects that invasive alien plants in the fynbos biome have on food and thermal resources available to Western Cape reptiles. I am using the Common padloper tortoise (Homopus areolatus) as the focal species for my study. As invasive alien plants continue to spread through habitats and disrupt ecosystem functioning, it is imperative that we understand the physiological costs that these non-native plants infer on native organisms. Reptiles such as the Common padloper tortoise are considered especially vulnerable to invasive alien plant mediated changes to the environment, as a result of their dependence on the external environment to regulate and maintain their body temperature, and the associated physiological functions. In order to protect the biodiversity for which the Western Cape is renowned, it is important to understand how changes to the environment (such as the introduction of invasive alien plants) impact on individual native species. Data from this study will provide much needed knowledge and understanding about the overall effects of invading alien plants on the ecosystem as a whole.