Professor Alan Whitfield

Great Fish Estuary fish sampling Fish sampling in the Kosi lakes system Sampling for estuarine pipefish in the Kariega Estuary
Leervis (Lichia amia) about to be released Retrieving seine net in the West Kleinemonde Estuary Preparing for sampling of Mbanyane Estuary
Chief Scientist
Professor Alan Whitfield
Tel : +27 46 603 5829
Fax : +27 46 622 2403

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Research Interests

Biology and ecology of fishes in southern African estuaries

Professor Alan Whitfield, Chief Scientist at the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB), is a leading estuarine ecologist with a particular interest in the biology and ecology of fishes within these environments.

Most of his earlier studies during the 1970s were focused on the feeding biology of fishes in KwaZulu-Natal estuaries and this was later extended in the 1980s to the Western Cape where he also developed skills in larval fish ecology.

When Alan moved to the J.L.B. Smith Institute of Ichthyology in 1987 he broadened his interests to include the importance of estuaries in fish life cycles, as well as the monitoring of human impacts on various fish communities. The move to Grahamstown also facilitated an increasing involvement with postgraduate students, some of whom are now in senior positions at universities and research institutes.

Professor Whitfield has developed strong international linkages in the field of estuarine ecology and continues to pursue a major research interest on the role of river flow in the functioning of estuaries. He is also leading a new multidisciplinary research initiative that is examining the structure and functioning of micro-inlets and micro-estuaries in South Africa.

Alan is an internationally rated scientist on the NRF rating system, the recipient of the JDF Gilchrist Memorial Medal for contributions to South African marine science, the SASAqS Gold Medal for his contributions to African aquatic science, an Honorary Professor at Rhodes University, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa.


Current Students

Recent Peer-Reviewed Publications

Google Scholar Profile

Latest Publications:

Magoro, M.L., Whitfield, A.K. & Carassou, L. 2015. Predation by introduced largemouth bass, Micropterus salmoides on indigenous marine fish in the lower Kowie River, South Africa. African Journal of Aquatic Science 40(1), 81-88.

Murray, T.S., Magoro, M.L., Whitfield, A.K. & Cowley, P.D. 2015. Movement behaviour of alien largemouth bass Micropterus salmoides in the estuarine headwater region of the Kowie River, South Africa. African Journal of Zoology 2015.

Potter, I.C., Tweedly, J.R., Elliott, M. & Whitfield, A.K. 2015. The ways in which fish use estuaries: A refinement and expansion of the guild approach. Fish and Fisheries 16(2), 230-239.

Whitfield, A.K. 2015. Why are there so few freshwater fish species in most estuaries? Journal of Fish Biology 86, 1227-1250.

Whitfield, A.K. & Pattrick, P. 2015. Habitat type and nursery function for coastal marine fish species, with emphasis on the Eastern Cape region, South Africa. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 160, 49-59.

Durand, J.-D. & Whitfield, A.K. 2016. Chapter 6. Biogeography of mugilids in western, central and southern regions of Africa. In: Biology, Ecology and Culture of Grey Mullets (Mugilidae) (Crosetti, D. & Blaber, S.J.M. eds), pp. 102-115. CRC Press, Boca Raton, USA.

Panfili, J., Aliaume, C., Anastasopoulou, K., Berrebi, P., Casellas, C., Chang, C.-W., Diouf, P.S., Durand, J.-D., Flores Hernandez, D., García de León, F.J., Lalèyè, P., Morales-Nin, B.,
Ramos Miranda, J., Shen, K.-N., Tomas, J., Tzeng, W.-N., Vassilopoulou, V., Wang, C.-H.,
Whitfield, A.K. 2016. Chapter 21. Grey mullet as possible indicator of coastal environmental changes: the MUGIL Project. In: Biology, Ecology and Culture of Grey Mullets (Mugilidae) (Crosetti, D. & Blaber, S.J.M. eds), pp. 514-521. CRC Press, Boca Raton, USA.

Whitfield, A.K. 2016. Chapter 14. Ecological role of Mugilidae in the coastal zone. In: Biology, Ecology and Culture of Grey Mullets (Mugilidae) (Crosetti, D. & Blaber, S.J.M. eds), pp. 324-348. CRC Press, Boca Raton, USA.

In Press:

Carassou L., Whitfield A.K., Bergamino L., Moyo S. & Richoux N.B. in press. Trophic dynamics of the Cape stumpnose (Rhabdosargus holubi, Sparidae) across three adjacent ecosystems. Estuaries and Coasts.

Whitfield, A.K, James, N.C., Lamberth, S.J., Adams, J.B., Perissinotto, R., Rajkaran, A. & Bornman, T. in press. Climate change and the role of pioneers as indicators of future range expansion by selected biota in southern African coastal waters. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science.