UFH Zoology and Entomology postgrad students present relevant and impressive research studies during end-of-year seminar

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A study into the abundance and diversity of citrus plant pests in Greenwood farm in the Eastern Cape and a study into molecular identification of araneae specimens using DNA barcoding to improve the Eastern Cape’s contribution to the Barcode of Life Data System database are among the research presented by postgraduate students during the UFH Department of Zoology and Entomology end-of-year seminar held recently.

According to the head of the Department, Dr Craig Tambling, the annual seminars were initiated in 2017 as a way to increase the cohesiveness of the department and to showcase the postgraduate research that is being conducted.

“We realised that many of the students were working on their projects and the rest of the department did not have any update on the progress or findings once the proposal was completed. This lack of feedback went as far as some students submitting their final projects and moving on with the bulk of the department unaware of what had been done or what answers had been obtained in the research.”

“Firstly, the seminars provide the ideal opportunity for the department to come together once a year and everyone gets to see what is being done and what each student has been busy with over the past year.”

“Secondly, a Book of Abstracts is developed to serve as a formal record by providing the Department, funders and collaborators with a detailed, consolidated report of all postgraduate student research that was completed that year. 

“Thirdly, the seminars give the students a chance to present in a conference-like setting amongst their peers, thus learning valuable scientific skills along the way.”

Held on the 26th and 27th October, the main activity of the two-day event was the presentation of research updates to the department through both face-to-face and online presentations. Altogether, 20 students (3 honours, 10 MSc's, 6 PhD's and 1 Post Doctoral) presented their research studies.

“This year’s end-of-year seminars were a rousing success. We had entomology, marine zoology and terrestrial zoology talks over the two days,” said Dr Tambling.

The seminar concluded with an awards ceremony in recognition of some of the students’ projects.

The awardees and categories were as followed:

Honours Winner - Chulumanco Majavu: The molecular identification of Araneae specimens using DNA barcoding to improve the Eastern Cape’s contribution to the Barcode of Life Data System (BOLD) database

Runner up - Me-Kuthi Gogela: Baboons and their use of waterholes in the Great Fish River Reserve, Eastern Cape, South Africa


Masters Winner - Oyama Mfeketho:  Characteristics and drivers of waterhole use by ungulates in the Great Fish River Nature Reserve (GFRNR), Eastern Cape, South Africa

Runner up - Bongi Mngqushu The effect of water-off events on the growth, survival, and biochemical stress indicators of the South African abalone Haliotis midae


PhD Winner - Pfarelo Grace Tshivhandekano: A morphological illustration of specimens of Natalimyzidae (Diptera: Schizophora) used to revise and describe different species

Runner up - Sinalo Malindie: Evaluating camera trapping success in monitoring demographic estimates for African buffalo (Synerus caffer) in thicket landscapes

Associate Professor at the Department, Prof Niall Vine said the postgraduate seminars are an important and valuable activity for students individually as well as the Department. 

“While the organising of the seminar programme, abstract book, and the seminars themselves take some time, it is well worth the effort.  It is clearly evident that the event pulls everyone together which helps develop and reinforce relationships between staff and students for the following years.”