Nicole Vorster

Background

I completed my BSc in Biodiversity and Ecology at Stellenbosch University in 2016. After graduating top of my class and with a Cum Laude, I completed a BSc Honours degree in Botany and Zoology at Stellenbosch University in 2017. That year consisted of various courses including biodiversity and systematics, functional ecology, conservation and utilization of natural resources and a brief introduction to palaeontology and philosophy. During my Honours year I also completed a research project investigating competition between native and alien ascidians in South Africa, which I received a distinction for. I am currently completing a MSc in Zoology at Stellenbosch University.

Current research

There are five drivers of global change namely habitat destruction, overexploitation, pollution, biological invasions and climate change. While most research considers each of these fields independently, in reality they occur simultaneously. Thus, there is a dire need to investigate interactions between drivers of change. In response to this need my MSc thesis experimentally considers the combined effects of climate change and invasions on predator-prey interactions between the South African whelk, Trochia cingulata and its mussel prey. Such research is seldom done in South Africa, especially for marine organisms. Furthermore, within the marine climate change field, few studies manipulate more than one environmental variable. Thus, my thesis firstly aims to determine how the survival, shell thickness, shell break force and shell shape of T. cingulata are affected by changing temperatures and decreasing pH. Secondly, it aims to investigate how these changing temperatures and pH affect the predator-prey interaction between this whelk and its prey.