Cape Town – In July 2019 the FBIP funded several postgraduate students with travel grants to attend the 39th Zoological Society of Southern Africa (ZSSA) Congress. Here is what they had to say about the event…

“The presentations were very interesting, and there was a good balance and range of topics covered, both in terms of disciples (ecology, phylogenetics, taxonomy, acoustics, conservation management,etc), and different aspects of zoology. All-in-all, the conference provided great perspective on the most recent advances in Southern Zoology.” Jake Mulvaney (University of Stellenbosch).


“The last session of the first day was on Taxonomy, Systematics and Evolutionary Biology. This is my area of expertise, so this was one of the most informative sessions for me of the conference. The highlight of the session was the talk by Conrad Matthee on parasite evolution. This was the most informative talk of the conference for me personally. I was unaware of the various vicariance events occurring in the Karoo – and this can be related directly to my own work.” Shannon Mitchell (University of Pretoria).


“I found the sessions ‘Biodiversity conservation and ecosystem resilience’ and ‘Taxonomy, systematics and evolutionary biology’ to be most applicable to my own work. I learnt about biodiversity assessment and modelling techniques I was previously unaware of. It was also useful to listen to talks of research on forest birds as it is directly comparable with my research on forest bats, it was insightful to understand the trends of a different animal group in response to forest fragmentation.” Monika Moir (Stellenbosch University)


“I learned a great deal of the power that DNA barcoding possesses for assessment of biodiversity and species Identification. This has overlap with the use of eDNA which has great value not only for my own project but my research group in general. I identified funding bodies for my own work as well as gaps in the databases of marine taxa.” Petrus Pretorius (University of Pretoria).


“It was really mind blowing to listen and see how other researchers are solving similar research questions with different analytical methods. The talks that I found more informative were the talks on the Taxonomy, systematics and evolutionary biology as they form part of my PhD project.” Evelyn Raphalo (University of Stellenbosch)


“ZSSA introduced me to important concepts that are perhaps overlooked in my field (species distribution modelling & human wildlife conflict). In particular, the importance of testing broad biological theories and concepts (such as the species concept) with fieldwork data. It also highlighted the importance of thorough genetic studies, not only in species delimitation but as a non-invasive sampling tool.” Zoe Woodgate (University of Cape Town)

In 2019, ZSSA celebrated its 60th year of existence,and to commemorate the milestone, the theme of the 2019 ZSSA Congress was CELEBRATING 60 YEARS OF AFRICAN ZOOLOGY.

The 39th ZSSA Congress was hosted by the School of Biology and Environmental Sciences, University of Mpumalanga at Skukuza, Kruger National Park, from 7 to 10 July 2019.