Dr Lizaan de Necker

Post Doc Researcher
Dr Lizaan de Necker

Research Interests

Freshwater ecology and biodiversity in southern Africa in the face of climate change.

My research encompasses freshwater riverine, floodplain and wetland habitats in southern Africa with particular focus on the ecology, food web structure and biodiversity of fish and aquatic invertebrates of these ecosystems. This has applications towards the management and conservation of these ecosystems as they are severely under threat by not only humans, but future predicted climate change as well.

Presently, I am working on a Water Research Commission funded project regarding the present and future predicted distribution of schistosomiasis (bilharzia) transmitting snails and their parasites in South Africa. The goal is to address the lack in knowledge regarding the present distribution of schistosomiasis in South Africa using a combined field and desktop based study approach. The study also aims to determine whether the ranges of schistosomiasis intermediate host snails and their associated parasites have changed in the past half century, and investigate whether this may further expand or change given future predicted climate change. We will also assess the existing knowledge, attitudes, perceptions and practices surrounding schistosomiasis in endemic communities. This research will provide updated information on the present and potential future distribution of schistosomiasis in South Africa as well as public health associated with the disease and exposure risk. This will may aid in informing policy and decision makers of the potential risks that climate change poses to humans and their livestock, particularly through changing ranges and increased occurrences of schistosomiasis.

I completed my Undergraduate and Honours degrees in Zoology and my Master’s in Aquatic Health at the University of Johannesburg where my project focused on the ecology and biodiversity of aquatic invertebrates in wetland ecosystems in the lower Phongolo River, northern Kwa-Zulu Natal. I went on to do my PhD at North-West University where I explored the present environmental state of the lower Phongolo River and its associated floodplain ecosystem and assessed the potential effects drought and anthropogenic pressures may have upon it. I accomplished this with the use of multiple lines of evidence including a 40-year water quality assessment, biodiversity monitoring of fish and aquatic invertebrates, field-based mesocosm assessments and stable isotope analysis.

Supervisor: Professor Olaf Weyl

Prof Luc Brendonck, University of Leuven, Belgium and  Prof Nico Smit, North-West University, Potchefstroom 

Recent Peer-Reviewed Publications


Google Scholar Profile