Natasha Kruger


I completed my B.Sc. Honours degree in 2014 in Biodiversity and Conservation Ecology after I completed my Bachelor’s degree in 2013 in Zoology and Botany at the North-West University Potchefstroom campus. My Honours theses discussed the Morphology and sexual behavior of the Kangaroo leech (Marsupiobdella Africana) and it was supervised by the well-known frog expert Prof. Louis du Preez at the School-for-biological sciences at the NWU. I shifted my study focus from blood sucking leeches to the very popular endangered Western Leopard Toad (Amietophrynus pantherinus) endemic to the Western Cape and the parasitological effects of the invasive Guttural Toad (Amietophrynus gutturalis) on this endangered population.

Current research

I am currently focusing on a very exciting project for my M.Sc.: determining whether any new parasites were introduced to the Western Cape through the invasive Guttural Toad and whether any parasites may pose a risk to the endangered Western Leopard Toad. The Guttural Toad is a local invader as it probably have been brought into the Western Cape, more specifically the suburb Constantia in the City of Cape Town, as eggs or tadpoles in delivery of aquatic plants from Durban into the Western Cape. This species is very adaptable and is able to breed in more or less permanent and semi-permanent standing water. The introduction of this species into the City of Cape Town may have serious direct effects such as competition and predation (Lockwood et al, 2013) and indirect effects such as interaction with the invasive infectious agents such as parasites (Prenter et al, 2004). An introduced host can act as vector and reservoir from which a new infection is transmitted to the native species, a phenomenon known as “spill-over” (Cleaveland et al. 2002, Kelly et al. 2009). However the introduced species can also act as new host for native infectious agents, from which the infection is transmitted back to the native species and this mechanism is called “spill-back” (Kelly I. 2009). Numerous factors such as host-infectious agent specificity, host density, and invasion pathway can determine the occurrence and intensity of these phenomena (Prenter et al. 2004).



Previous symposia attended