Strategic Aim & Mission
This subprogram (SP) consists of a diverse group of scientists covering a wide spectrum of science disciplines viz. Botany (S Cilliers*, K Kellner* and F Siebert), Microbiology (S Claassens*), Soil Science (P van Deventer and J Koch) and Zoology (M Maboeta*).  Of the seven members, four hold an NRF rating* (3 C’s and 1 Y). The group’s research comprises both fundamental and applied research projects which are determined by the needs of the industry, rural and urban communities.

Specific Focus
The focus of the SP is rehabilitation/restoration of the environment, conservation of biodiversity, impact on ecosystem services, sustainable management of the rural, urban and agro-ecological systems, as well as assessing anthropogenic impacts on the environment. This is highly relevant and interdisciplinary from a national and international perspective.


Research objectives
Soil microbiology with specific reference to the microbiology of soils affected by anthropogenic influences, which include agricultural soils and disturbed soils such as those affected by mining activities. There is a strong emphasis on the application of soil microbial measurement methodology and the establishment of assessment criteria.

Plant-animal interactions and monitoring disturbance impacts on riparian ecosystems with emphasis on vegetation change.

Urban ecology and more specifically studying the patterns of urban biodiversity and the processes (biophysical and socio-economic) driving them, as well as applying the results in urban planning and management.

Ecosystem services related to Sustainable Land Management (SLM) in arid and semi-arid ecosystems in the North-West and Northern Cape Provinces of Southern Africa, especially the Kalahari region. Impacts of land degradation and desertification and the restoration of degraded rangelands.

Long-term savanna vegetation dynamics in response to natural disturbances, such as climate variability, flooding, herbivory, fire and anthropogenic disturbances, such as rural settlement and mining activities in the semi-arid savanna ecosystems of South Africa.

Rehabilitation and mine closure with specific focus mining affected areas.

Soil ecotoxicology; assessing the effects of pollution on the soil environment; utilizing earthworms as bioindicators.


Research Groups
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Click on the researcher's name for a short video about their research

Urban and settlement ecology
 - Prof Sarel Cilliers, Prof Stefan Siebert & Prof Juaneé Cilliers

Microbal Ecology
- Prof Sarina Claassens

Land degradation, desertification and restoration
 - Prof Klaus Kellner

Savanna vegetation dynamics
- Dr Frances Siebert

Ecotoxicology and organic waste management
 - Prof Mark Maboeta