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Post-doctoral fellow

Dr Glynis Humphrey

Research topic: The role of fire, climate, policy and land use change as key drivers of vegetation change in the Kalahari of north-east Namibia

Office: Room 5.04 HW Pearson Building
Telephone: +27 78 411 4236




Glynis’s main research interests are in fire history, ecology and people and the use of interdisciplinary research in addressing savanna-woodland fire management in southern Africa. Her PhD (2018), supervised by Associate Professor Lindsey Gillson, titled ‘The role of humans, climate and vegetation in the complex fire regimes of north-east Namibia’ focused on understanding the historical and present-day social-ecological determinants of fire in Bwabwata National Park. She used an integrated approach of historical data, and social surveys in combination with remote sensing and geographical information system (GIS) analyses to understand the fire regime dynamics in a savanna landscape over a period of 16 years (2000 – 2015).

Her current post-doctoral research builds upon her PhD thesis in Bwabwata National Park and investigates the extent of vegetation change over decadal - centennial time periods with the use of historical aerial photographs and Landsat imagery. This first phase of the project involves examining possible changes associated with a transition in fire management policy from suppression to early burning strategies in the park. The second component involves modelling past and future land use and fire management scenarios. This research is part of a wider multi-disciplinary project investigating long-term vegetation and fire dynamics that includes several other students using repeat photography and palaeo-ecological datasets in collaboration Associate Professor Lindsey Gillson and the University of Witwatersrand (WITS).

Glynis has a B.Sc. (Hons) in Environmental Science from Rhodes University, and an M.Sc in Conservation Biology from the Fitzpatrick Institute of African Ornithology at the University of Cape Town. Between her studies, she worked in the ecological field in South Africa, Peru, Botswana, Namibia, and Tanzania. Professional experiences include work as a conservation ecologist, field guiding in South Africa, wild-life research and monitoring, environmental consulting specializing in arid-zone ecological restoration and environmental assessments in Namibia. Her professional research interests are founded upon an established interest in understanding the complex interactions between people, conservation policies and ecology in savanna environments under the threat of global environmental change.

Key research interests:
People and biodiversity conservation in African developing countries, climate change, fire and savanna –woodland ecology; history, social-ecological interactions between climate, land use, people (indigenous groups, NGOs and Government); remote sensing; GIS; rural livelihood sustainability; conservation policies; interdisciplinary synthesis i.e. pyrogeography; modelling social-ecological-fire regime coupling scenarios; applied management, and science communication.

Recent Peer Reviewed Publications

  1. 2020. Humphrey, G. J., Gillson, L & Ziervogel, G.  How changing fire management policies affect fire seasonality and livelihoods. Ambio. Vol.49 (8).
  2. 2019. Gillson, L., C. Whitlock & G. Humphrey. Resilience and fire management in the Anthropocene. Ecology and Society. 24(3):14. DOI:
  3. 2016. Moore, A., Flügel, T., Hutton-Squire, T., Hutton-Squire, M., Humphrey, G.. Size distribution of Baobabs on Kubu “Island”, Sowa Pan (northern Botswana): an indicator of late-stage evolution of the Makgadikgadi palaeo-lake and climate change? South African Journal of Geology 119:3, 535-544.
  4. 2013. Humphrey, G.J. & Sarrafek, L.  ‘Evidence of Yellow-Billed Kites (Milvus aegyptius) fishing during the Barble run’ in the pan-handle of the Okavango River, Botswana: Ornithological Observations. Vol 4: 27 -30.
  5. 2010. Child, M.F., Milton, S.J., Dean, W. R. J., Lipsey, M. K., Puttick, J., Hempson, T. N., Mann, G. K., Babiker, H., Chaudrey, J.,Humphrey, G., Joseph, G., Okes, N. C., Potts, R. and Wistebaar, T. 2010. Tree-grass coexistence in a flood-disturbed, semi-arid savanna system. Landscape Ecology 25(2):315-326.
  6. Conference Abstracts
  7. 2017. Humphrey, G. and Gillson, L. 2017. Anthropogenic influence on fire regimes in North-east Namibia. Paper presented at the 15th Annual International Savanna Science Network Meeting, Kruger National Park, 12-17 March 2017.
  8. 2016. Humphrey, G., Gillson, L. and Ziervogel, G. Tracing the social fire history of the western Caprivi: 19th - 21st Century. Paper presented at the 14th Annual International Savanna Science Network Meeting, Kruger National Park, 13-17 March 2016.
  9. 2016. Humphrey, G. The role of indigenous fire knowledge in Bwabwata National Park, in north-east Namibia. Research presented at the National Fire Management Workshop and Strategy Development in Windhoek, Namibia, 28-29 November 2016.
  10. 2014. Humphrey, G.J. “The role of humans in the complex fire, climate, and vegetation regimes of North-east of Namibia”. 1st International Workshop on Historical Ecology: The Next Generation. Integrated History and Future of People on Earth (IHOPE) Workshop, 12-13th November 2014, Uppsala University, Sweden.
  11. 2011. Humphrey, G.J. ‘The Rehabilitation Conundrum’ – ecological processes vs. rehabilitation measures and landscape aesthetics in the Namib Naukluft Park, Namibia, Society of Ecological Restoration 2011. 4th World Conference on Ecological Restoration, 2nd Meeting of the Ibero-American & Caribbean Ecological Restoration Network. Merida, Mexico.