Conservation Ecology
Welcome to Stellenbosch University


Conservation Ecology ​& Entomology​​

​​​​​​​​​​​Prospective Postgrad​​uates​

The Department of Conservation Ecology and Entomology is dedicated to researching the preservation or restoration of ecosystem function, whether it be in natural landscapes (conservation) or in agriculture (entomology). The two disciplines combine into the fast-growing and important field of sustainable agriculture, which is a core research focus in the department. 

Conservation Ecology

In Conservation Ecology, we specialise in the conservation of plants, animals and fungi, which includes the conservation of the organisms themselves, their interactions with other species and the natural process across landscapes that allows them to persist. Major research thrusts are the functioning and ecology of plant and animal populations, and the complex living communities in the management of natural resources and landscapes. This includes the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of forest trees, natural grazing lands, game species, the prevention and control of invasive species, the management of species, ecosystems and environmental processes in both formal and private protected areas, especially those in human-fragmented landscapes, and the implementation of social learning institutions for the adaptive management of production landscapes. Research in this department also focuses on integrating conservation into agriculture. This involves researching ecosystem services processes such as pollination, nutrient cycling, water filtration and the promotion of natural enemies of pests to create sustainable farming systems that will be able to deliver long-term food and water security.


The applied research focuses mainly on the integrated management of mite and insect pests and the concepts, rationale and application thereof, especially to deciduous fruit, fruit fly management in the fruit industry, post-harvest entomology and plant nematological pests. Biocontrol through insects and nematodes is core to our applied entomological research. Basic research is done on morphology and systematics, especially on Lepidoptera, and the physiology and ecology of fynbos insects. The Department houses an extensive collection of insects for study.  We also research terrestrial insects and their environmental adaptations, including phenotypic plasticity, respiratory metabolism and gas exchange patterns, insect respiratory chemoreception, and physiological responses to oxygen and temperature

Postgraduate Qualificatio​ns

See general postgraduate information on these programmes. Visit the links below for Calendar information.

  • MSc in Conservation Ecology
  • PhD in Conservation Ecology
  • MSc in Entomology
  • PhD in Entomology
  • DSc in Entomology
  • MSc in Nematology
  • PhD in Nematology
  • MSc in Sustainable Agriculture 

Graduate Attribut​​es

Graduates of the Conservation Ecology Programme will:

Contribute to the sustainable management of agricultural landscapes at all spatial scales (global, continental, national, local).  They will have the skills to be professionally mobile. They will be aware of issues in the "real world" and be able to inform policy & management at the multiple scales.  They will possess a strong professional tool-kit (academically sound knowledge and skills) that enables them to:

  • Be technologically and analytically proficient
  • Be socially embedded and interactive
  • Be broad-minded, critical & innovative thinkers
  • Be able to transfer theory into practice
  • Be facilitators of positive change in research and management
  • Be able to think globally, but act locally;
  • Be transdisciplinary, holistic / systems thinkers
  • Be able to network & able to work in teams
  • Be socially and culturally sensitive & responsive
  • Be decision makers towards positive action for a better, environmentally aware world
  • Be flexible and creative

Our graduates will have well developed generic skills (reading, writing, quantitative skills); they will be inspired, confident, and articulate.​​

Contact Information

  • Prof​ James Pryke
    Programme Co-ordinator
  •    +27 (0)21 808 4775 / 3304

Important Information