PhD student

Yolanda Chirango

Thesis title: A Palaeoecological Context for Forest Distribution and Restoration in Grootbos Nature Reserve

Supervisors: Prof Lindsey Gillson and Prof M. Timm Hoffman

Office: Room 5.12.2, HW Pearson Building




MSc Biological Sciences (Pollination Ecology); BSc (Honours) Biological Sciences; BSc Applied Biology, Ecology and Evolution



Yolanda is a PhD student at the University of Cape Town specialising in applied palaeoecology. She is originally from Zimbabwe and grew up in Victoria Falls and later Harare but has been permanently based in Cape Town for the past 10 years. She has a background in conservation biology focusing on botany and the impact of climate change on biodiversity. After completing her MSc she worked as the Africa Regional Project Coordinator for SPARC (Spatial Planning for Protected Areas in Response to Climate Change) in the Global Change Biology Group at Stellenbosch University. Yolanda’s research interests lie in solution-based research to ongoing environmental issues such as climate change and land degradation. Her PhD research uses fossil pollen, charcoal and soil analyses to investigate the historical forest and fynbos distribution in Grootbos Nature Reserve. The insights from the study will be applied to ongoing and future restoration management plans in the reserve.

Yolanda is a passionate advocate for diversity, inclusivity and equity in scientific spaces and involved in initiatives and committees that promote this. She also has an interest in accessible scientific communication and socially responsive research. In her spare time she loves to read fiction and is heavily involved in online book communities.



Chirango, Y. et al. 2019. The March fly and the ant: the unusual pollination system of Eustegia minuta (Apocynaceae: Asclepiadoideae). Arthropod-Plant Interactions 13:745–755.


Maas, B. et al. 2020. Academic leaders must support inclusive scientific communities during COVID-19. Nature Ecology & Evolution 1-2.

Ollerton, J. et al. 2019. The diversity and evolution of pollination systems in large plant clades: Apocynaceae as a case study. Annals of Botany, Volume 123, Issue 2:311–325.