Student research @ Gobabeb

Ndelimona Iipinge. Student Associate.

Ndelimona is working to understand the foraging behaviour of one of the Namib’s most elusive creatures: Namib Golden Moles (Eremitalpa granti namibensis).


These small, blind, nocturnal insectivores range widely on and below the surface of the Namib sand dunes at night in search of prey: the sand-swimming “shark” of the Namib dune sea.


Supervisors: Gary Bronner (UCT); Eugene Marais (Gobabeb)

Paulina Pomwene Fendinat. Student Associate.

Paulina is studying the ecohydrology and ecophysiology of the Namib Desert plant, Welwitschia mirabilis. She wants to understand where Welwitschia gets its water and how efficiently it uses it. Her research will help clarify the risks that mining, tourism, land use, and climate change may pose to the species, and help in mitigating those risks.


Paulina is a PhD candidate at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST).


Supervisors: Theo Wassenaar (NUST); Heather Throop, (Arizona State University - ASU, USA)

Ailly Nanguloshi Nambwandja. Student Associate.

Ailly is using drone / remote sensing to monitor photosynthesis in Namibia’s distinct lichen communities. Her research will provide a low impact method for monitoring of lichen flora, and lead to better conservation strategies, identifying in particular where surface traffic (on foot or in vehicles) should be avoided.


Ailly is studying for the MSc degree in Natural Resources Management at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST).


Supervisors: Ben Strohbach (NUST); Eugene Marais (Gobabeb)

Noita Josob. Student intern

Noita is studying how local Topnaar communities use the riparian forest vegetation along the Kuiseb River. Using community interviews, Noita is identifying key forest species and community conservation measures to better map forest resources. This will inform planning for management of the national park and river basin.


Noita is studying for the Bachelors degree in Natural Resources Management at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST).


Supervisors: Jonathan Kamwi (NUST), Eugene Marais (Gobabeb)

Natanael Ndilenga. Student Associate.

Natanael studies the pollination biology and demography of Welwitschia mirabilis.


He is using a combination of using time-lapse photography, direct observation, fluorescent tracers, and other methods to clarify what is pollinating Welwitschia. Surprisingly, little is known of the pollination ecology, reproduction, and populations of this iconic plant.


Supervisors: Allan Ellis (University of Stellenbosch); Eugene Marais (Gobabeb)

Jessica Roberts. MSc Student. Hot Birds Project.

Jess is exploring how behaviour (such as panting, wing drooping and shade seeking) of free-ranging dune larks help them adapt to the harsh thermal environment of their dune habitat.


Her observations, in addition an analysis of microhabitats and thermal refuges, will be used to create a mathematical model of dune lark biophysical ecology.


Jess is studying for the MSc in zoology at the University of Pretoria (UP).


Supervisors: Andrew McKechnie (UP); Susan Cunningham, (University of Cape Town)

Leandri Wessels. Student Associate.

Leandri is exploring how topography, frequency and incidence of fog events affect the composition of biological soil crust communities, in particular gypsum soils of the coastal plains along a gradient of fog incidence with distance from the ocean.


Her project makes extensive use of Gobabeb’s FogNet weather station array.


Leandri is studying for the MSc at North-West University (NWU) Potchefstroom campus.


Supervisors: Roelof Burger (NWU); Stuart Piketh (NWU); Stefan Siebert (NWU).


Martin Handjaba. Junior Researcher.

Martin is modeling the biophysical ecology two nocturnal gerbil species that are endemic to the Namib Desert: Gerbillurus tytonis (a dune-dweller) and Gerbillurus setzeri (occupying gravel plains.


His research will contribute to our understanding of how Namib fauna may respond to changing climatic conditions.


Supervisors: Stuart Piketh (Northwest University); Eugene Marais (Gobabeb)

Ndapandula (Kapandu) Shihepo. Training Coordinator.

Kapandu is looking at environmental policy and social ecology, in particular the effectiveness of policies to reduce plastic bag use and pollution at central coastal towns in Namibia.


She also organizes and oversees Gobabeb’s training programs for students at all educational levels (primary, secondary and tertiary)


Supervisor: Gillian Maggs-Kölling, (Gobabeb), Eugene Marais (Gobabeb)

Saima Shikesho. Junior Researcher.

Saima is studying seed dispersal of endemic Namib plant, the !nara (Acanthosicyos horridus) by black-backed jackals and gerbils.


She hopes better to understand how the !nara’s disjunct distribution along the riparian corridor of the Kuiseb River comes to be.


Saima is studying for MSc at the University of Cape Town (Biological Sciences).


Supervisors:  Jeremy Midgley (UCT); Eugene Marais (Gobabeb).

Elbe Brunette. Senior Researcher.

Elbe is investigating human-induced water stress in the riparian trees of the central Namib Desert.


Through her project, Elbe aims to provide the scientific basis for future decision–making around the allocation of water to societies and ecosystems.


Elbe is a PhD candidate at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST).


Supervisors: Theo Wassenaar (NUST); Lixin Wang (Indiana University-Purdue, USA)

Halle Shaanika. Student Associate.

Halle is investigating whether burrowing by gerbil species significantly improve soil conditions on the Husab gravel plains.


If they do, it means gerbils are ecological engineers that may support the presence of large mammals and other grazers.


Halle is studying for the MSc degree in Natural Resources Management at NUST.


Supervisors: Theo Wassenaar (NUST), Seth Eiseb (University of Namibia).

Jonas Lipopila. Student Associate.

Jonas is using geospatial data and modelling to explore species-environmental relationships and ecological niches for the endemic, Husab sand lizard (Pedioplanis husabensis) in the central Namib Desert. He hopes his findings will lead to use of advanced technologies in addressing biodiversity conservation issues.


Jonas is studying for the MSc degree in Natural Resources Management at NUST.


Supervisors: Theo Wassenaar (NUST); Vera de Cauwer (NUST).

Gobabeb Namib Research Institute
PO Box 953
Walvis Bay 13103, Namibia

+264 (0)64 694 198/9 (T)
+264 (0)64 694 197 (F)

gobabeb@gobabeb.org


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