MSc student

Hana Petersen

Thesis topic: An environmental gradient analysis of the vegetation types of the Upper Karoo Hardeveld, South Africa.

Supervisors: Prof M. Timm Hoffman (PCU), Simon Todd (SAEON), co-supervised by Sam Jack (PCU)  
Collaborating Institutions: South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON); South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)
Office: Room 5.04, HW Pearson Building

BSc (Hons) Biological Sciences, University of Cape Town

Activities and Research Interests
Hana graduated in 2014 with a BSc degree majoring in Applied Biology and Ecology & Evolution at UCT, and continued to complete her Honours degree in Biological Sciences thereafter. During her Honours year, she engaged in both zoology- and botany-oriented projects to satisfy her curiosity. After researching social acoustic behaviour in horseshoe bats during the first half of the year, she then joined the PCU to undertake a repeat photography project in the Tanqua Karoo, supervised by Prof. Timm Hoffman. It was during this time that she developed a keen interest in the diverse shrubland vegetation of the Karoo. She then decided to further her studies and began her MSc degree in February 2016, supervised once again by Prof. Timm Hoffman, and Simon Todd from SAEON’s Arid Lands node.

With a strong affinity to botany, Hana’s main research interests are in the fields of plant community ecology, vegetation dynamics, and conservation biology. In particular, she is interested in how plant community composition and diversity varies spatially, what drives this variation, and how this changes across environmental gradients.

Hana’s project forms part of SANBI’s Karoo BioGaps group of projects, aimed at filling information gaps in the Karoo. Her project aims to measure species composition, species richness, species diversity and growth form diversity of the vegetation of the Upper Karoo Hardeveld and Besemkaree Koppies Shrubland. This involves the sampling and analysis of plant communities on rocky dolerite hills and their surrounding plains, along an environmental gradient spanning the length of the Central Karoo. This study will aid the collection of critical baseline data for the Karoo region prior to scheduled exploratory fracking.

Hana keeps an online blog called, Botany for Breakfast. Here you can follow Hana on her academic journey and experiences.