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The ecology of the glorious grasslands of Africa

When: Wednesday, 11 September 2019 - Wednesday, 11 September 2019
Where: Braamfontein Campus East
Senate Room, 2nd floor, Solomon Mahlangu House
Start time:18:00

Professor Sally Archibald, School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences will present her inaugural lecture.

Tropical grassy ecosystems are fascinating to scientists and important for human wellbeing. Seemingly-academic discussions around dynamics and feedbacks in these ecosystems can have huge implications for how they are managed, whether they can help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and what sorts of landscapes African people will inhabit in the next century. Interactions between fire, herbivores, trees, grasses and people play out on a canvas of climate variability and geological antiquity. Sally Archibald will summarise some of the important science debates she has engaged in during her research career and what they mean for how we value and conserve African landscapes. 

Professor Archibald works on understanding the dynamics of savanna ecosystems in the context of global change. Her work integrates field ecological data, remote sensing, modelling, and biogeochemistry. Her research on global fire regimes has highlighted misunderstandings about the role of humans in altering fire regimes, and has provided new tools for managing fire in conservation areas to promote biodiversity.  

She is currently involved in collaborative research projects on grass functional traits, inter-continental savanna comparisons, and the origins of wet-dry seasonality in Africa. This research has provided insights into drivers of resilience in tropical grasslands. Archibald is on the steering committee of several scientific programs including iLEAPS, the Miombo Network, and SASSCAL. She works closely with the CSIR where she worked for 10 years before joining Wits.

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