Mr Dave Dyer

Highest Qualification: MSc (UKZN)

Office Details: HW Pearson Building: 2.06

Tel. +27 (0) 21 650 3402


PhD Thesis Title: Trophic ecology of ecologically different kelp bed communities of South Africa (Supervisors: Prof. John Bolton, A/Prof. Robert Anderson (DAFF), A/Prof. AJ Smit (UWC)).

Project Abstract

Kelp bed communities are vital ecosystems in shallow coastal habitats along the cooler coastlines of the world’s oceans, typically where upwelling is prevalent. On the south-western and west coast of South Africa, these macro-algae form complex 3-dimensional habitats which are home to diverse faunal assemblages that depend directly or indirectly on these organisms. Kelp primarily enters the marine food web in the form of detrital particles which are continuously generated from the erosion of the distal portions of the kelp fronds. These particles enter the water column and become available to kelp associated filter-feeders which, as a consequence, often dominate the faunal biomass of these habitats. Some of these particles are also exported and utilized in adjacent marine systems and thus, kelp beds have a far-reaching influence on various marine food webs. Kelp beds are ecologically variable in the south-western Cape region, varying in faunal and floral assemblages, as a result of a multitude of natural and anthropogenic factors. Our current understanding of their functioning is therefore limited, as it is based solely on a single historic model of a west coast kelp bed. Understanding how the different organisms interact within these systems, with particular focus on food web dynamics, will provide key insights into the functioning of these habitats.

In summary, this project aims to improve our understanding of the flow of organic matter through ecologically different kelp bed communities which dominate the shallow coastal regions around the Cape Peninsula and on the south-western coastline of Southern Africa.