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.