PhD (Biological Science), KwaZulu-Natal
BSc (Hons), KwaZulu-Natal
NRF Professional Development Programme Postdoctoral Fellow
Office: 2-38, Ground Floor, Zoology Building
Phone: +27 (0)12 420-4609
Email: [email protected]
Phenotypic flexibility in bat thermal physiology
My general research interests focus on the physiology of mammals, particularly bats, and their capacity to cope with environmental stressors such as pollution and climate change. Bats in tropical and sub-tropical latitudes in particular, occupy extremely thermally challenging environments, where roost sites can reach up to 50– 60˚C. For endotherms occupying hot environments, heat tolerance and evaporative cooling are crucial mechanisms of thermoregulation. With the global maximum temperature estimated to rise by 2– 5˚C over the next century, individuals that can show reversible transformations in behaviour, physiology or morphology may have a selective advantage. This phenotypic flexibility can for instance, be seen in the acclimatization of physiological responses to accommodate seasonal changes in the environment. Thus, the primary focus of my current postdoctoral research, supervised by Prof. Andrew E. McKechnie at the University of Pretoria, involves a combination of monitoring wild populations and thermal acclimation experiments on populations from hot and cool areas during seasons where the extremes of temperature are reached, to understand heat tolerance and phenotypic flexibility in bat populations.
As a joint postdoctoral fellow at the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa, I am also investigating the genetic aspects of heat tolerance in these bat populations. Additionally, my previous research to date, explored ecological and physiological responses of bats foraging at wastewater polluted sites. As such, I will also contribute to ecotoxicological work on several taxa at the NZG.