Natalie Haussmann

email:                [email protected]
Tel:                    +27 (0) 12 420 4049
Office:               Geography Building 1-15
Consultation:     Appointment by email


Research profile

I am an ecologist, with a specific interest in the interactions between ecology and geomorphology and I hold a C2 rating from the NRF. The main thread connecting my research is ecological disturbance, both anthropogenic and natural disturbance. As such, I have student projects focusing on the effect of disturbances (road construction, burrowing, plant invasion) on species richness and composition of both plants and animals. I have also recently expanded my interest to include ecological disturbances within an agricultural context, broadening the scope and applicability of my research and facilitating projects also within the social sciences. My research interests have naturally evolved over the years into what I would call three main streams of interest, within this overarching umbrella of ecological disturbance. My main research interest is on burrowing mammals, their ecological impacts and their interactions with the farming community in South Africa. I have had a number of students graduate on this topic, both within the natural sciences and the humanities. I am also interested in the ecological effects of roads, as an anthropogenic disturbance. Although I have not published on this topic yet, I have supervised a number of projects on roadside ecology, and hope to publish some of the results in the near future. My third interest is not so much a disturbance in itself, as a response to disturbance. As such, I am particularly interested in the response of seedbanks, and the similarity between seedbanks and aboveground vegetation, to disturbance. Seedbank ecology has thus formed a central theme in many of my publications.



  • BSc (University of Amsterdam)
  • MSc (University of Amsterdam)
  • PhD (Stellenbosch University)


Courses presented

  • GGY 166 - Introduction to Geomorphology (2011-present)
  • GGY 252 - Process Geomorphology (2011)
  • GGY 361/GGY 363 - Applied and Environmental Geomorphology (2010, 2013-present)
  • GGY 703 - Honours course Research and Presentation Skills (2011 & 2014)
  • GGY 702 - Honours Research Projects (2015-present)
  • GGY 789 - Environmental Change (2010-present)


Postgraduate students

  • Charné A. Gouws (2022). MSc dissertation. Biotic and abiotic drivers of fine-scale variation in the performance of a dominant sub-Antarctic grass species. Main supervisor: Prof. Peter le Roux. 
  • Morena J. Mapuru. MSc dissertation. Understanding the two-way interactions between aardvark (Orycteropus afer) burrowing and the surrounding landscape characteristics at Rietvlei Nature Reserve, South Africa. Co-supervisor: Dr. Christel Hansen.
  • Misha Malherbe. MSc dissertation (2021). The effects of roads on medium to large mammals in the Kruger National Park, South Africa.
  • Izak B. Foster. MA dissertation (2019). Understanding farmer knowledge, perceptions and management of burrowing mammals: a study from the Ottosdal region in South Africa.
  • Katlego K. Mashiane. MSc dissertation (2018). Interactive effects of disturbances on grassland soil and vegetation characteristics: A study of Rietvlei Nature Reserve and the Eastern Cape, South Africa. Co-supervision: Prof. Peter le Roux.
  • Tamsyn L. Galloway. MSc dissertation (2017). Gravel road and mammal path impacts on above and belowground vegetation characteristics in an urban grassland nature reserve. Co-supervision: Prof. Peter le Roux.
  • Michelle A. Louw (co-supervisor). MSc dissertation (2017). Testing of consistency in the impacts of burrowing on soil and vegetation across biomes. Main supervisor: Prof. Peter le Roux.
  • Gareth D. Isengegger. MSc dissertation (2017). Fur seals as geomorphic agents on sub-Antarctic Marion Island. Co-supervisor: Prof. Trevor McIntyre.
  • Julia N. Amukwa. MSc dissertation (2015). Documenting and addressing power outages caused by bird nests: sociable weavers in Namibia. Co-supervisor: Prof. Peter le Roux.
  • Mahlatse D. Modiba. MA dissertation (2015). Assessing the determinants of public participation in the EIA process. Co-supervisor: Dr Nerhene Davis.


Current postgraduate students

  • Izak B Foster. PhD thesis. Burrowing mammals in a South African farming context: from farmer perspectives to ecological consequences.
  • Simone E. Blomsterberg-Reyneke. MSc dissertation. (The relationship between wildlife and livestock associated with aardvark (Orycteropus afer) burrows in pasturelands. Co-supervisor: Prof Peter le Roux.
  • Jordan I. Netherlands. MSc dissertation. Title to be decided. Co-supervisor: Prof. Armanda Bastos.
  • Misha Malherbe. PhD thesis. Title to be decided. Co-supervisor: Peter le Roux. 


Research publications (journals, conference proceedings)

Scopus H-Index | Google Scholar H-index | ORCID ID

  • Mapuru, J.M., Hansen, C.D., Haussmann, N.S. 2022.  Exploring determinants of aardvark burrow locations at Rietvlei Nature Reserve, South Africa, In: Proceedings of the 2021 Joint Biennial Conference of the Society of South African Geographers and the Southern African Association of Geomorphologists, eISBN 978‐0‐6397‐1052‐5.
  • Gouws, C.A., Haussmann, N.S. and le Roux, P.C. 2021. Seed trapping or a nurse effect? Disentangling the drivers of fine-scale plant species association patterns in a windy environment. Polar Biology, 44, 1619–1628.
  • Grundling, R.E., Turner, D.P., Grundling, P., Beckedahl, H. and Haussmann, N.S., 2021. Accidental wetlands – a southern African case study from the Kgaswane Mountain Reserve, Rustenburg. South African Geographical Journal, 103 (4), 484–500.
  • Louw, M.A., Haussmann, N.S. and le Roux, P.C. 2021. Disentangling the effects of two co-occurring biotic modifiers on vegetation properties in a semi-arid savannah ecosystem. Journal of Arid Environments 189, 104504.
  • Malherbe, M., McIntyre, T., Hattingh, T.V., Leresche, P.M. and Haussmann, N.S. 2021. Mammal road-type associations in Kruger National Park, South Africa: common mammals do not avoid tar roads more than dirt roads. Ecology and Evolution, 11, 15622–15629.
  • McIntyre, T. and Haussmann, N.S. 2021. Declining citation accuracy in polar research. Polar Record 57, e43.
  • Nel, W., Boelhouwers, J.C., Borg, C., Cotrina, J.H., Hansen, C.D., Haussmann, N.S., Hedding, D.W., Meiklejohn, K.I., Nguna, A.A., Rudolph, E.M., Sinuka, S.S. and Sumner, P.D. 2021. Earth science research on Marion Island (1996–2020): a synthesis and new findings. South African Geographical Journal 103(1): 22-42.doi: 10.1080/03736245.2020.1786445
  • Haussmann, N.S., Delport, C., Kakembo, V., Mashiane, K.K. and le Roux, P.C., 2019. Restoration potential of invaded abandoned agricultural fields: what does the seedbank tell us? Restoration Ecology 27, 813-820.
  • Foster, I.B., McIntyre, T. and Haussmann, N.S., 2019. Understanding the relationship between farmers and burrowing mammals on South African farms: are burrowers friends or foes? Agriculture and Human Values 36, 719-731.
  • Louw, M.A., Haussmann, N.S. and le Roux, P.C., 2019. Testing for consistency in the impacts of a burrowing ecosystem engineer on soil and vegetation characteristics across biomes. Scientific Reports 9(1): 19355.
  • Haussmann, N.S., Louw, M.A., Lewis, S., Nicol, K.J.H., van der Merwe, S. and le Roux, P.C., 2018. Ecosystem engineering through aardvark (Orycteropus afer) burrowing: Mechanisms and effects. Ecological Engineering 118, 66-72.
  • Haussmann, N.S. 2017. Soil movement by burrowing mammals: a review comparing excavation size and rate along body size gradients. Progress in Physical Geography 4, 29-45.
  • Louw, M.A., le Roux, P.C., Meyer-Milne, E. and Haussmann, N.S., 2017. Mammal burrowing in discrete landscape patches further increases soil and vegetation heterogeneity in an arid environment. Journal of Arid Environments 141, 68-75.
  • Haussmann, N.S., Kalwij, J.M. and Bezuidenhout, S., 2016. Some ecological side-effects of chemical and physical bush clearing in a southern African rangeland ecosystem. South African Journal of Botany 102, 234-239.
  • Louw, M.A., le Roux, P.C. and Haussmann, N.S., 2016. Effects of ecosystem engineers in arid environments on soil and vegetation. South African Journal of Botany 103, 322.
  • Haussmann, N.S., Rudolph, E.M., Kalwij, J.M. and McIntyre, T., 2013. Fur seal populations facilitate establishment of exotic vascular plants. Biological Conservation 162, 33-40.
  • Haussmann, N.S., McIntyre, T., Bumby, A.J. and Loubser, M.J., 2013. Referencing practices in physical geography: how well do we cite what we write? Progress in Physical Geography 37, 543-549.
  • Haussmann, N.S., 2011. Biogeomorphology: understanding different research approaches. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 36, 136-138.
  • Le Roux, P.C., Boelhouwers, J., Davis, J.K., Haussmann, N.S., Jantze, E. and Meiklejohn, K.I., 2011. Spatial association of rodent burrows with landforms in the Swedish sub-Arctic mountains: implications for periglacial feature stability. Arctic, Antarctic and Alpine Research 43, 223-228.
  • Haussmann, N.S., McGeoch, M.A. and Boelhouwers, J.C., 2010. Contrasting nurse plansts and nurse rocks: spatial distribution of seedlings of two sub-Antarctic species. Acta Oecologica 36, 299-305.
  • Haussmann, N., Aldahan, A., Boelhouwers, J. and Possnert, G., 2010 . 10Be application to soil development on Marion Island, southern  Indian Ocean. Nuclear Intruments and Methods in Physics Research B 268, 1058-1061.
  • Haussmann, N.S., Boelhouwers, J.C. and McGeoch, M.A., 2009. Fine scale variability in soil frost dynamics surrounding cushions of the dominant vascular plant species (Azorella selago) on sub-Antarctic Marion Island. Geografiska Annaler Series A 91, 257-268.
  • Haussmann, N.S., McGeoch, M.A. and Boelhouwers, J.C., 2009. Interactions between a cushion plant (Azorella selago) and surface sediment transport on sub-Antarctic Marion Island. Geomorphology 107, 139-148.
  • Jansen, B., Haussmann, N.S., Tonneijck, F.H., Verstraten, J.M. and de Voogt, P., 2007. Characteristic straight-chain lipid ratios as a quick method to assess past forest - páramo transitions in the Ecuadorian Andes. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 262, 129-139.

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