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A new scientist for SAEON’s Fynbos Node

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Jasper doing fieldwork on Reunion Island.

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Jasper in the Riviersonderend Mountains in the Western Cape Province of South Africa.

Jasper Slingsby, a recent PhD graduate from the University of Cape Town, has joined the SAEON Fynbos Node as of January this year.

His role is to increase scientific capacity within the node, setting up new research projects and collaborations, supervising students and producing research outputs.

Born and raised in the heart of the Cape Floral Kingdom, Jasper spent his childhood in the Kleinmond-Betty’s Bay area, frequently camping on the Palmiet River in the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve. This inspired him to take up studies in biology at the University of Cape Town in 2001, completing his PhD in ecology and evolutionary biology in 2011.

Maintenance of Fynbos diversity

His thesis studies explored the role of habitat specialisation and niche differentiation in driving the evolution and facilitating the maintenance of Fynbos diversity.

The project involved combining theory and techniques from a large number of fields (including molecular phylogenetics, ecophysiology, community ecology and global change biology), requiring him to develop a diverse skill set that will make a valuable contribution to the SAEON Fynbos Node’s skills toolbox.

Jasper's thesis studies explored the role of habitat specialisation and niche differentiation in driving the evolution and facilitating the maintenance of Fynbos diversity.

On completing his PhD, Jasper took up a position as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of La Réunion, France, exploring patterns of diversity and specialisation to microclimates in bryophyte (mosses and liverworts) communities along an elevational gradient on the Piton de la Fournaise volcano, Reunion Island (http://bryophyte.cbnm.org/).

Predicting global change impacts on Fynbos

He then worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Connecticut, exploring changes in species composition and trait distributions in Fynbos communities over time in relation to climate and fire, with the goal of developing mechanistic models for the prediction of species responses to global change.

Besides his interest in biology, Jasper’s favourite activities include hiking (to remind himself why he loves doing biology) and surfing (to get away from it all).

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