My Scientist Fantasy – Biodiversity SA Conference 2013

My Scientist Fantasy – Biodiversity SA Conference 2013
My Scientist Fantasy – Biodiversity SA Conference 2013

It’s no secret that Africa is home to a startling variety of life. In fact, it completely boggles my mind!

South Africa alone is home to 10% of the world’s known bird, fish and plant species, and over 6% of the world’s mammal and reptile species. South Africa makes up only 1% of the world’s entire land space so this is pretty impressive don’t you think?

PicMonkey Collagebio

Learning about Africa’s fascinating creatures (including the human ones) is something I’ve always delighted in. Sometimes I even find myself wishing that I was a marine biologist or a primatologist, or whatever you call a scientist who studies elephants? …if only my brain was less ‘artsy’ and more ‘sciency’!

But next week I’m living out my scientist fantasies. For four days I’m going to be surrounded by brilliant minds, learning about ground-breaking research at the Biodiversity Southern Africa conference, hosted by UCT’s Department of Biological Sciences from the 2nd to the 7th of December.

I might (just in my own mind, of course) pretend that I’m really a scientist. I’ll be bringing you live updates to let you in on all the fascinating titbits that I learn about Southern Africa’s mind-boggling biodiversity. I can’t wait!

If you’re interested, follow the action on twitter #biodiversitySA and right here on my blog.

Captonians are also invited to attend two open talks on the evenings of the 3rd and 5th of December

  • Madagascar’s Biodiversity: Origins, Patterns and Future is the title of a talk by Dr Steven Goodman (Field Museum, Chicago, USA Association Vahatra, Antananarivo, Madagascar) It’s being held on Tuesday 3 December, 17H30 – 18H30, at the University of Cape Town’s Upper Campus, LT1, in the John Day Building.
Prof Steve Goodman holding a rufous vanga, Schetba rufa, Analavolona, Southwest Madagascar.  ©
Dr Steve Goodman holding a rufous vanga, Schetba rufa, Analavolona, Southwest Madagascar.
©Frans Lanting (

“The biodiversity of Madagascar is one of the splendors of the natural world and its preservation deemed a conservation priority. In this presentation, aspects of why the island holds such a unique biota, the role of continued biological research, capacity building, and new discoveries are described and illustrated. These different aspects are important to put into context certain evolutionary patterns and how these can be used for logical and scientifically sound conservation programs. The current plight of the island, specifically social-economic-political problems, is a critical aspect for what the future holds. Degrading conditions, both for humans and forest-dwelling organisms, is discussed.”

  • Jika ne Langa – Turn with the Sun – Like a Dung Beetle by Assoc. Prof. Marcus Byrne (University of the Witwatersrand) Time: Thursday 5 December, 17H30 – 18H30, University of Cape Town Upper Campus, LT1, John Day Building, Upper Campus, UCT
Prof Marcus Bryne  © Chris Collingridge
Prof Marcus Bryne
©Chris Collingridge

“Dung beetles are small insects with tiny brains, but they can perform feats of navigation most humans would struggle with. By asking the beetles simple questions we can get direct answers on how they orientate, including their use of the Milky Way as an orientation cue – the first animals ever shown to use edge of our galaxy to find their way. This presentation explores ways of doing science with a model animal.”

Prof Byrne has also given an awesome TED presentation that you can watch here 

To rsvp email

“Biodiversity is the totality of all inherited variation in the life forms of Earth, of which we are one species. We study and save it to our great benefit. We ignore and degrade it to our great peril.”

 E.O. Wilson



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