Thursday, 25 September 2014

Smith Memorial Lecture 25th Sept 2014

Smith Memorial Lecture: Burrowing beneath the surface – sandprawns provide insight into the ecological value of estuaries

 The South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity is proud to present Dr Deena Pillay as the guest speaker for the 2014 Smith Memorial Lecture.

The lecture, which commemorates Margaret and JLB Smith and their legacy of discovery and research in Ichthyology, is held annually and provides an opportunity for the Grahamstown public to come and find out about cutting-edge marine research that is happening along South Africa’s amazing coast.
The sandy bottoms and mudflats of estuaries can give the illusion of being lifeless and barren, while other marine systems appear to be rich and teeming with colourful life. However, life thrives beneath the surface of marine sediments, and the activities of these organisms provide functions that are important in regulating processes in marine systems.

In his lecture, entitled ‘Marine sedimentary ecosystems: ecological value and conservation threats Dr Pillay will show that marine soft sediment habitats are amongst the largest ecosystems in the world. In comparison with other marine ecosystems such as coral reefs and rocky shores, sedimentary systems receive less conservation attention globally; they are also more seriously disturbed by human activities because they are easily accessed and provide wonderful areas for recreation.

Dr Deena Pillay is marine ecologist who is interested in the life systems supported by the sedimentary layers in estuaries and lagoons. He completed his PhD in 2006 on the effects of the activities of sandprawns in intertidal sandflats in Durban Bay. He then took up a permanent post as a lecturer at the University of Cape Town in 2008, after completing two years of post-doctoral research on the ecology of the St Lucia Estuary. Currently, his main area of work is on estuarine systems in the Western Cape, where he is working towards understanding how burrowing creatures such as sandprawns influence the ecology of soft-sediments. In 2011, he was a recipient of the College of Fellows Young Researcher Award and in 2013 he received the Claude-Leon Merit Award for young researchers. In 2014, he was a recipient of the South African Network for Coastal and Oceanographic Research (SANCOR) Emerging Scientist Award.

Date: Thursday, 25 September
Time: 6.30pm
Venue: Lecture Hall:  SAIAB, Somerset Street

All welcome!

Snack and drinks will be available.