My interest in polychaetes started during my PhD research at Rhodes University (Department of Ichthyology and Fisheries Science) when I investigated the reproduction of a polychaete worm that was infesting farmed abalone. At the start of my PhD I thought that I wanted to ‘save the abalone’, but within six months I lost interest in abalone and became hooked on worms.
Now my research explores the taxonomy and biology of polychaetes — particularly of taxa that are economically or ecologically important. These include species that are pests on cultured molluscs, used as bait by anglers, and are non-indigenous. Clarifying their taxonomy provides greater understanding of their biodiversity and distribution in South Africa and globally. Understanding their reproductive strategies and gene flow among populations helps us understand how pests and aliens may spread, how vulnerable bait species are to over-exploitation, and inform better management and conservation of species.
Editorial Boards, Committees and Professional Society membership:
Co-Editor-in-Chief: African Zoology
Steering Committee member: Foundational Biodiversity Information Programme
Council Member: Zoological Society of southern Africa, International Polychaete Association
Society membership: South African Society for Systematic Biology
Research Associate: Knysna Basin Project