Professor M Justin O'Riain
Behavioural ecology, Sociality, Evolution, Mammals, Human-wildlife conflict, Conservation, Wildlife management
Phone: 021 6503645
Current and future research
My two main research fields over the next six years will be Behavioural Ecology and Conservation Biology. Within these two fields I will continue my long term work on the proximate and ultimate causes of sociality in mammals while including a new research emphasis on the importance of behavioural studies in deriving sustainable solutions to mammal species in conflict with humans in southern Africa. In essence I believe that behavioural ecologists should design studies not only to test discipline specific hypotheses but also to provide additional information for protection and management of their study organisms and habitats.
This in essence is the approach I have adopted since obtaining academic tenure and it has proven to be an exceptionally good vehicle for training postgraduate students while ensuring social relevance of the work undertaken. Furthermore by studying natural systems that are being impacted by human activities one can design studies that include anthropogenic impacts as treatments and thus couch the research within a quasi- experimental design (e.g., van Doorn et al 2009, Hoffman and O’Riain 2010 and Kaplan et al. 2011). In the process of realising these objectives it has been essential to forge links with local, provincial and government bodies and assist with the shaping of management plans, protocols and policy. This constitutes an important component of academic life (i.e., social responsiveness) and is an essential part of making science ‘relevant’ in a developing country with established social challenges.
8) Spatial and behavioural ecology of an apex predator in a fragmented, fire-driven ecosystem: a case study of the Cape leopard, Panthera pardus, in the Boland mountains, Western Cape, South Africa (Co-supervised by Dr Quniton Martins and Prof. Les Underhill).
9) Gareth Tate: Species diversity, richness and relative abundance of mammalian wildlife in general and damage causing animals in particular: commercial plantations versus natural and other human-modified habitats in Mpumalanga province (MSc)
10) Michelle Wcisel: The effects white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) presence has on the behaviour of Cape fur seals (Arctocephalus pusillus) at Geyser Rock (MSc). (Co-supervised by Alta De VGos and Les Underhill).
Kotze, S.H. Van der Merwe, E.L. Ndou, R. O'Riain, M.J., Bennett, N.C. (2010). The colonic groove or furrow: a comparative morphological study in six species of African mole-rats (Rodentia, Bathyergidae). Journal of Morphology. 271(1): 50-60.
Kotze, S.H. Van Der Merwe, E.L. Bennett, N.C. O’Riain, M.J. (2010). The Comparative Anatomy of the abdominal Gastrointestinal Tract of Six species of African Mole-rats (Rodentia: Bathyergidae). 271(1): 50-60.
De Vos, A. and O’Riain, M.J. (2010). Sharks shape the geometry of a selfish seal herd: experimental evidence from seal decoys. Biology Letters. 6(1), 48-50.
Wilson, W. O’Riain, M.J, Hetem R.S. Fuller A and Fick L.G. (2010). Winter body temperature patterns in free-ranging Cape ground squirrel, Xerus inauris: no evidence for torpor. Journal of Comparative Physiology B. 180 (7): 1099-1110.
Hoffman T. and O’Riain, M.J. (2010). The Spatial Ecology of Chacma baboons (Papio ursinus) in a human modified environment. International Journal of Primatology. 32:308–328
Kaplan, B. O’Riain, M.J., van Eeden, R. King, A. (2011). A low-cost manipulation of food resources reduces spatial overlap between baboons (Papio ursinus) and humans in Conflict. Int. J. Primatology. Volume 32, (6), 1397-1412.
van der Horst, G., Maree, L. Kotze S.H. O'Riain, M.J. (2011) Sperm structure and motility in the eusocial naked mole-rat, Heterocephalus glaber: a case of degenerative orthogenesis in the absence of sperm competition? BMC Evolutionary Biology. 11:351
Drewe, J. O’Riain, M.J. Beamish, E. Currie, H. (2012). A survey of infections transmissible between baboons and humans in Cape Town, South Africa" Emerging Infectious Diseases.
Hoffman T.S. and O’Riain, M.J. (in press). Landscape requirements of a primate population in a human-dominated environment. Frontiers in Zoology.
Ravasi D., O’Riain, M.J. Adams, V.J. and Appleton, C. (in press). A coprological survey of the protozoan and nematode parasites of free ranging chacma baboons (Papio ursinus) in South Africa. S.A.J. Wildlife Research.
Hoffman T.S. and O’Riain, M.J. (in press). Monkey Management: Using spatial ecology to understand the extent and severity of human-baboon conflict in the Cape Peninsula, South Africa. Ecology and Society.
Hoffman T.S. and O’Riain, M.J. (in press). Ranging patterns of a chacma baboon population in the Cape Peninsula, South Africa, provide support for social theory despite extensive habitat heterogeneity. American J. Primatology.
T.C. Bray, P. Bloomer, M. J. O’Riain, and N.C. Bennett. (2012). How attractive is the girl next door? An assessment of spatial mate acquisition and paternity in the solitary Cape dune mole-rat, Bathyergus suillus. PLos One.
De Vos, A and O’Riain, M.J. (in presss). Movement in a selfish seal herd: Do seals follow simple or complex movement rules? Behavioural Ecology.
Damiana F. Ravasi, M. Justin O'Riain1, Faezah Davids, Nicola Illing (in press). Phylogenetic evidence that two distinct Trichuris genotypes infect both humans and non-human primates. PLos One.