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Arid Lands Node brags with TWO additional research associates

By Dr Helga van der Merwe, SAEON Research Career Advancement Fellow
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Dr Noel and Prof. Gretel van Rooyen, two new research associates at the Arid Lands Node

Recently the Arid Lands Node team strengthened its scientific capabilities with the addition of two arid region specialists, Dr Noel and Prof. Gretel van Rooyen.

Both these scientists bring with them unique skills and experience.

Dr Noel van Rooyen

Noel’s highest academic qualification is a DSc in Plant Ecology at the University of Pretoria (UP) where he was Professor in Plant Ecology until 1999. He is an author/co-author of more than 120 peer-reviewed research publications, chapters in five books as well as a co-editor of a book. In 2001 he published a field guide on the flowering plants of the Kalahari dunes. Nine PhD and 33 master’s students have completed their studies under his supervision/co-supervision.

Noel has extensive experience in the northern savannas of South Africa, with a special affinity to the Kalahari in which he has conducted a vast amount of research since the 1980s. His specific expertise includes vegetation surveys, classification and mapping, wildlife management, wildlife production and economic assessments, vegetation ecology, veld condition assessments, carrying capacity, floristic diversity assessments, rare species assessments, carbon pool assessments and alien plant management.

Prof. Gretel van Rooyen

Gretel has a PhD in Plant Ecology from UP and is an Emeritus Professor in Plant Ecology at UP. She is author/co-author of more than 100 peer-reviewed research publications and has presented/co-presented more than 100 posters or papers at international and national conferences. Five PhD and 29 master’s students have completed their studies under her supervision/co-supervision. Gretel has co-authored a book and two wildflower guides and has contributed to six chapters in various books.

Her primary research interests lie in population biology and vegetation dynamics, with her main aim being to gain an understanding of ecosystem dynamics and to use this understanding to develop strategies to conserve, manage, use sustainably or restore ecosystems. Geographically the focus of the studies has been primarily in Namaqualand and the Kalahari, although several studies were conducted in Maputaland (Northern KwaZulu-Natal) and Namibia.

Through their associateships, the Arid Lands Node stands to gain expertise on vegetation change over time in Namaqualand, including the changes on old fields after abandonment. The renewal of historical vegetation surveys in the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park will add great value in understanding this arid savanna. In the near future, the extension of their research across the vast open expanses of the Karoo is envisaged.

We warmly welcome the van Rooyens to the SAEON family.

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