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Marine Apex Predator Research Unit


MAPRU Members


Pierre PistoriusProf Pierre Pistorius
Head of Unit
Professor, Department of Zoology, NMU


Maëlle ConnanDr Maëlle Connan
Research Associate, Department of Zoology, NMU
Research interests: Trophic ecology of marine top predators from the tropics to high latitudes


Greg HofmeyrDr Greg Hofmeyr
Curator: Marine Mammals, Port Elizabeth Museum
Research interests: behavioural ecology, ecology, demography, human-animal interactions, morphology, pinnipeds, marine mammals, Western Indian Ocean, Southern Ocean


Theagarten Lingham-SoliarProf. Theagarten Lingham-Soliar
Research fellow, Institute for Coastal and Marine Research, NMU
My research interests include the biomechanics of flying and swimming. This has involved the microstructural biomechanics of the feather and dermal crossed-fibre structure of the white shark. I am also a palaeontologist, recently most involved in the 'Birds are Dinosaurs" controversy while in Africa I, with colleagues, discovered the longest theropod trackways and the biggest sauropod tracks.


Lorien PichegruDr Lorien Pichegru
Research fellow, Department of Zoology, NMU
My research focuses on seabirds foraging ecology and life history traits in relation to prey availability and local competition with industrial fisheries, using animal-borne miniaturized recorders, such as GPS recorders combined with pressure sensors, cameras, etc, taped on adults breeding small chicks to determine the at-sea behaviour of several species of seabirds breeding in South Africa, endemic to the region and threatened with extinction.


Stephanie PlönDr Stephanie Plön
Research Fellow, Department of Oceanography/ Institute for Coastal and Marine Research, NMU
Research interests: General ecology of cetaceans (whales and dolphins), including natural history, trophic ecology, anatomy, population genetics, strandings and health investigations. I use a diverse array of methods to examine long-term trends in cetacean biology in view of changing environmental conditions, indicative of global change, including anthropogenic impacts.


Malcolm SmaleDr Malcolm Smale
Curator Emeritus, Port Elizabeth Museum at Bayworld
Research interests: Biology and feeding ecology of marine apex predators, with a focus on sharks. The use of Port Elizabeth Museum fish otolith and cephalopod beak collections for prey identification has allowed specific identification of prey taken by marine predators. The use of ultrasonic and satellite telemetry, and stable isotopes analyses has broadened our knowledge of the movements, ranges and ecological roles of various apex predators.



Thibaut BouverouxDr Thibaut Bouveroux
Post-doctoral fellow, Department of Oceanography / Institute for Coastal and Marine Research, NMU


Dr Alistair McInnesDr Alistair McInnes
Post-doctoral fellow, Department of Zoology, NMU
Research interests: influence of marine bio-physical processes on at-sea performance of foraging seabirds, functional relationships between foraging effort and prey supplies, novel approaches to marine ecosystem management.


Dr Giannina Passuni
Post-doctoral fellow, Department of Zoology, NMU
"Bottom-up influence of climate change on endangered marine top predators via trophic coupling and retroactive top-down influence of these predators on their environment."


Theoni PhotopoulouDr Theoni Photopoulou
Post-doctoral fellow, Institute for Coastal and Marine Research, NMU


Ryan ReisingerDr Ryan Reisinger
SANCOR post-doctoral fellow, Department of Zoology, NMU
“Marine top predator distribution and diet at the Sub-Antarctic Prince Edward Islands”


Andréa ThiebaultDr Andréa Thiebault
Post-doctoral fellow, Department of Zoology, NMU
"Social interactions among foraging seabirds"


Ralph VanstreelsDr Ralph Eric Thijl Vanstreels
Post-doctoral fellow, Department of Zoology, NMU
"Ticks and tick-borne pathogens in seabirds of the Southern Hemisphere"



Jonathan BothaJonathan Botha
"A regional assessment of foraging and trophic ecology of the Cape fur seal (Arctocephalus pusillus pusillus)"


Tegan Carpenter-KlingTegan Carpenter-Kling
“Ocean utilization of marine top predators at the Prince Edward Archipelago”


Danielle FifeDanielle Fife
"Tracking trace elements (including heavy metals) in seabird communities using stable isotopes and fatty acids"


Katharina Reusch

"Foraging ecology of kelp gulls in natural and anthropogenically modified environments"





Sibusisiwe Tele (Ngqulana)Sibusisiwe Tele (Ngqulana)
“The taxonomic status of dolphins Tursiops spp. and Delphinus spp. in South African waters”


Gwendoline TraisnelGwendoline Traisnel
"African penguin phenotypic plasticity during global changes"


Dr Alejandra Vargas Fonseca
“Abundance, distribution and population genetic structure of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) along the southeast coast of South Africa”



Ilana Engelbrecht
" Individual foraging specialisation in Cape gannets breeding at Bird Island, Algoa Bay "


Kuhle HlatiKuhle Hlati
"Assessing spatio-temporal patterns of cetacean occurrence in the south-east coast of South Africa, using synchronised automated acoustic and visual monitoring systems


 Lillina Ruiters

"King penguins at Marion Island: Inter-annual spatial variability in foraging and trophic ecology"





Makabongwe Sigqala
Decadal trends in the diet of marine top predators on Marion Island"


Danielle Van Den HeeverDanielle Van Den Heever
“Foraging ecology of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters (Puffinus pacificus) breeding in two islands in the tropical western Indian Ocean: Seychelles and la Réunion”



Oliver Hartley

"Cape gannets (Morus capensis): Rafting unravelled"





Natasha Shilubane

"Resource partitioning between giant petrels breeding at Marion Island, sub-Antarctic"





Michelle CaputoMichelle Caputo | PhD | Rhodes University
"Occurrence and fine-scale population structure of delphinids off the Wild Coast of South Africa, and their connectivity to adjacent population"