Phil McLean


I graduated with a BSc in 1998 from the University of Cape Town and followed that with an Honours degree in Botany in the following year. I then got involved in the corporate world for the next 16 years, but eventually found my way back to my first love of botany (specifically invasives) and am currently registered for my Masters degree with the C·I·B.

Current research

Urban areas contribute significantly to the invasive plant species problem, yet are considerably understudied throughout the world. Of these areas, smaller urban nodes have a high edge-effect which arguably allows them to contribute significantly more propagules into the surrounding natural areas.

I am interested to see whether there are any patterns inherent in plant invasions within small urban centres. To frame the study, I have chosen to work within the Berg River catchment and define ‘small town’ as one with fewer than 20,000 residents. I am currently busy with a survey of the alien plants found in these small towns, specifically looking at the land use type on which they are found. An outcome will be a prioritisation tool and search methodology enabling other small urban centres to quickly locate and determine their alien species ‘load’.

Later, these results will be compared to the current and past alien plant clearing effort from the natural areas of the catchment to determine the relative importance of the ‘invasive species load’ within the towns (and their potential to contribute to continued recruitment of invasives in the rest of the catchment).


Conference presentation