I study the ecology and evolution of plant reproduction, and currently hold a postdoctoral fellowship in Cang Hui's group in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. My specific interests include the causes of pollen limitation and importance of pollinators for plant reproduction; the role of self-fertilisation in colonisation success, including for invasive species; and the evolution of self-fertilisation. The effect of plant abundance on pollination is a central theme in my research: how low abundance reduces pollination success; how this is mediated by traits of plants, pollinators and the community; and the implications for plant populations, communities, and macroecological patterns.
I am currently working on a synthesis study on how much pollinators contribute to reproduction in wild plants. Another ongoing study is a review and meta-analysis of the effects of plant density on pollination success. Related to this, I am co-supervising a theoretical investigation of the effect of pollen dispersal on the rate of spread of plants.
My PhD at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, focused on the importance of self-fertilisation and plant population size for seed production in invasive species, primarily Lilium formosanum, but also Australian Acacia species. In addition, I documented the pollinators of these species in South Africa and assessed performance of offspring from self-fertilisation in field and shade-house experiments. During my first postdoctoral fellowship in the department of Botany and Zoology at Stellenbosch University in South Africa I synthesised data on pollination of South African plant species, especially those in the Greater Cape Floristic Region, and collaborated on a study assessing the relationship between self-fertilisation and dispersal abilities in annual daisy species in Namaqualand in South Africa. Since then I have had two short postdoctoral fellowships in Europe. At Uppsala University in Sweden I started a project on selection on display size in the orchid Gymnadenia conopsea which is ongiong. During my postdoc at the Unversity of Lausanne in Switzerland I worked towards my ongoing project on the effects of plant density on pollination success.
In the future I plan to engage further with how plant mating is affected by plant abundance and spatial distribution in combination with pollinator behaviour, plant size and competitive and facilitative interactions with other plant species in the community. I am planning research to assess the relevance of the population biology concept of the Allee effect to community ecology and macroecology.