Featured Research

Isopod taxonomy shows genetic links across Gondwana

Dr Gavin Gouws

 The ancient supercontinent known as ‘Gondwana’ broke up about 180 million years ago. The Phreatoicidea is a mysterious and ancient group of isopods that were distributed across the subcontinent and which now occur in South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and India, with fossils know from Antarctica.

Dr Gavin Gouws, a Senior Scientist at SAIAB, undertook a research visit to Australia in early February 2019. The primary purpose was to visit the Western Australian Museum (WAM) to examine a south-western Australian genus of freshwater isopods from the family Phreatoicidea. The visit was to conclude the taxonomic description of a new species identified in a genetic study published by SAIAB in 2013 .

A common thread that emerged from visits to various research institutions was that there is a lack of collaboration among marine researchers working in the western and eastern Indian Ocean regions and there is a great need for cross-basin collaboration thus metaphorically bringing Gondwana back together across the Indian Ocean. Given the wide overlap in interests and activities, the presentations given by Dr Gouws also sparked interest among students, who are investigating options for continuing aspects of their research in partnership with SAIAB. Read more here.