Susan Canavan

Background

I completed my undergraduate degree in Ecology with a minor in Economics from The University of Guelph in Canada. My main interests have been focused around plant biology and sustainable development. For my ecology thesis I undertook two projects. The first looked at how galling wasps effect plant resource allocation in goldenrod plants. The second project involved a series of experiments on Arabidopsis thaliana plants to identify mutations by looking at gene expression during different developmental stages. My main economics project attempted to explain composting rates of households across Canada by modelling demographic determinants, so that neighbourhoods could be better targeted for participation programs. I started my MSc in invasion biology at Stellenbosch University at the beginning of 2014.

Current Research

My current research addresses the growing popularity surrounding bamboo cultivation both globally and in South Africa. Many bamboo species have become popular alternatives to traditional woods and are increasingly being presented as modern day ‘miracle’ crops. The rapid growth rates, easy propagation and low maintenance, mean certain bamboo species offer high rates of return from minimal labour. However, these robust qualities are also ‘weedy’ traits. There have been several instances around the world where bamboo species have become invasive and weedy, creating infestations that are difficult to control and have negative impacts. South Africa has a fast emerging bamboo industry that intends to foster non-native bamboos, this also might create conflicts of interest.

Main Aims

To assess the risks of bamboo cultivation, my MSc research proposes to:

  1. review bamboo introductions and invasions globally;
  2. conduct a nationwide survey for of bamboo occurrence and use in South Africa;
  3. assess the risks and potential impacts of an emerging bamboo industry; and
  4. develop management guidelines for cultivation best practices.