SARChI Chair University of Venda

The University of Venda based South African Research Chair in Biodiversity and Change in the Vhembe Biosphere Reserve is a vibrant hub for biodiversity science, training and conservation application in the Southern African Development Community – a body of established and emerging researchers, postgraduate and postdoctoral candidates. The Research Chair, co-hosted by the Centre for Invasion Biology at the University of Stellenbosch, is funded by the Department of Science and Technology and administered by the National Research Foundation.

Chair members, Professors Paul Fouche, Irene Barnhoorn and Stefan Foord from the Zoology Department, Dr Jabulani Gumbo from the Hydrology Department in the School of Environmental Sciences and their students and collaborators, made significant contributions towards a better understanding of anthropogenic impacts on the water quality, nutrient status and biodiversity of selected rivers, dams and fish farms in the Vhembe Biosphere Reserve.

Funded by the Chair, and in collaboration with Prof. Wilmien Luus-Powell and her team from the University of Limpopo, Prof. Fouche initiated a project on “An assessment of the water quality and ecological status of selected rivers in the Vhembe Biosphere Reserve using diatom based indices, fish biodiversity and the health status of the fish”. Five monthly surveys were conducted in four river systems and parasite and diatom samples taken. The project involves three MSc students from the University of Limpopo co-supervised by Prof. Fouche. Two papers are in preparation, one reporting on the new parasite species recorded and another on the ecosystem health of the four tributaries. Professors Irene Barnhoorn and Stefan Foord supervised four University of Venda Chair-funded Honours students (Ms. N. Maligana, Mr. V.T. Maphote, Ms. F.T.T. Netshongolwe and Ms.V. Mulaudzi) working on aspects of river health, biodiversity indicators, fish health and anthropogenic impacts, in the Dzindi River and Albasini Dam. All four dissertations have been completed and submitted for external examination. Dr Jabulani Gumbo’s Chair-funded MSc student (Ms Tshifura) commenced her MSc study on “An Assessment of algae species and their cyanotoxins in small holder aquaculture production systems: a case study of Vhembe District, South Africa”. She has identified her study sites, met with fish farmers, and commenced her data collection.

Download the report here: An assessment of the water quality and ecological status of selected rivers in the Vhembe Biosphere Reserve using diatom based indices, fish biodiversity and the health status of the fish

Academic articles are in preparation and links will be available once published.

Staff

  • Paul Fouche Paul Fouche
  • Irene Barnhoorn Irene Barnhoorn
  • Stefan Foord Stefan Foord
  • Jabulani Gumbo Jabulani Gumbo