Botany & Zoology
Welcome to Stellenbosch University

Dr Victor Rambau

​​Evolutionary Genomics Group

​Research Focus

My research area broadly includes comparative cytogenetics (including molecular cytogenetics) and phylogeography of small mammals. My ultimate aim is to test the utility of characters defined by chromosomal landmarks to address evolutionary relationships among Rodents. Most critical in this endeavor is to unequivocally identify regions of homeology among taxa with the fluorescence in situ hybridization technique using a panel of commercially available chromosomes and species-specific flow sorted chromosomes as probes. The cytogenetic data is supplemented with mitochondrial nucleotide sequence data and skull morphometrics data (through an ongoing collaboration with Dr Peter Taylor at the Durban Museum of Natural History). This multidisciplinary approach is specifically aimed at clearly demarcating potential taxonomic boundaries in rodent species complexes (cryptic species). Furthermore, in collaborating with Prof Jeremy Searle ( University of York , UK ) we are investigating the colonization history of the British Isles by small mammals using the pygmy shrew, Sorex minutus , as a model.

Current Collaboration

South Africa​
Dr. Peter J. Taylor, Curator of Mammals Durban Natural Science Museum, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal Province

Prof Jeremy B. Searle, Department of Biology University of York, York, England 

Dr Sarita Maree, Department of Zoology and Entomology University of Pretoria, Pretoria, Gauteng Province 
Prof Chris T. Chimimba, Mammal Research Institute Department of Zoology and Entomology University of Pretoria, Pretoria, Gauteng Province


Membership to Professional Societies

​(1) European Society for Evolutionary Biology

(2) The Zoological Society of Southern Africa

(3) Southern African Society for Systematic Biology

​(4) The Genetics Society of Great Britain

​Service on Committees

​Council member of the Zoological Society of Southern Africa        


Peer-Reveiwed Journal Publications

  • Clements et al (2024).The bii4africa dataset of faunal and floral population intactness estimates across Africa’s major land uses. Scientific Data​ 11: 191. Impact factor 5.54​

  • Matamba E, Richards LR, Cherry MI, Rambau RV (2022). Phylogeography of the mesic adapted striped mouse, Rhabdomys dilectus chakae (Rodentia: Muridae) in the forest margins of the Eastern Cape and southern KwaZulu- Natal provinces of South Africa. Biological Journal of the Linneaen Society​ XX: 1 - 13. ​Impact factor: 1.9​6

  • Matamba E, Richards LR, Cherry MI, Rambau RV (2021). DNA barcoding of the mesic adapted striped mouse, Rhabdomys dilectus in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu- Natal provinces of South Africa. Vertebrate Zoology​ 71: 503 - 515​​. ​Impact factor: ​​1.17
  • Moir M, Richards LR, Rambau RV, Cherry MI (2021). Functional diversity and trait filtering of insectivorous bats relate to forest biogeography and fragmentation in South Africa. ​Journal of Biogeography. 00: 1 - 13. Impact factor:​ 3.72

  • Moir MI, Richards LR, Rambau RV, Cherry MI (2020c). Bats of Eastern Cape and southern KwaZulu-Natal forests, South Africa: diversity, call library and range extensions. Acta Chiropterologica. 22(2): 365–381. ​Impact factor: 1.00

  • Moir M, Richards LR, Cherry MI, Rambau, RV (2020a).  Demographic responses of forest-utilizing bats to past climate change in South Africa.  Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 130: 850–868. Impact factor: 1.916
  • Moir M, Richards, LR, Rambau, RV, A. Wannenburg, Cherry MI (2020b).  Fragmentation does not affect gene flow in forest populations of the dusky pipistrelle bat on the eastern seaboard of South Africa.  Journal of Mammalogy  101(6):1587-1600.  Impact factor: 2.330
  • Matamba E, Richards, LR, Cherry MI, Rambau, RV.  (2020)  DNA barcoding and continuous distribution of the mesic-stripe mouse, Rhabdomys dilectus populations in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal provinces of South Africa.  Vertebrate Zoology. 70(4):667-678. Impact factor: 1.14
  • Richards, LR, Rambau, RV, Yang F, Schoeman, MC, Taylor, PJ, Goodman, SM, & Lamb,  JM. (2016).  Karyotypic evolution in Malagasy flying foxes (Pteropodidae, Chiroroptera) and their rhinolophoid relatives as determined by comparative chromosome painting Cytogenetics Genome Research. 148: 185-198. Impact factor: 1.114
  • Knight, L. I., Ng, B. L., Cheng, W., Fu, B., Yang, F., & Rambau, R. V. (2013). Tracking chromosome evolution in southern african gerbils using flow-sorted chromosome paints. Cytogenetic and Genome Research, 139(4), 267-275. Impact factor: 1.114
  • McDevitt1, AD, Vega, R., Rambau, RV, Yannic, G,  Herman, JS, Hayden, TJ & Searle J.B.  (2011). Colonization of Ireland – revisiting 'the pygmy shrew syndrome' using mitochondrial, Y chromosomal and microsatellite markers. Heredity. 107, 548–557 Impact factor: 4.122
  • Engelbrecht, A, Daniels, SR, Taylor, PJ & Rambau, RV (2011). Cryptic speciation in the southern African vlei rat, Otomys irroratus complex: evidence derived from mitochondrial cyt and niche modeling  Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. 192–206 Impact factor: 2.019
  • Engelbrecht, A, Taylor, PJ, Daniels, SR, Rambau, RV (2011). Chromosomal polymorphisms in the african vlei rats, otomys irroratus detected using banding techniques and chromosome painting: inversions, centromeric shifts, and diploid number variation. Cytogenetics and Genome Research) 133:8–15 Impact factor: 1.729
  • Richards LR, Rambau RV, Lamb JM, Taylor PJ,  Yang F, Schoeman MC & Goodman SM (2010). Cross-species chromosome painting in bats from Madagascar: the contribution of Myzopodidae to revealing ancestral syntenies in Chiroptera. Chromosome Research 18:635–653 Impact factor: 3.23
  • McDevitt, AD, Yannic, G, Rambau, RV, Hayden, TJ & Searle JB (2010).  Postglacial re-colonization of continental Europe by the pygmy shrew (Sorex minutus) inferred from mitochondrial and Y chromosomal DNA sequences. Book Title: Relict Species:  Phylogeography and Conservation Biology, pages 217-236 (Springer, Heidelberg, ISBN 978-3-540-92159-2).
  • Jeremy B. Searle, Petr Kotlík, Ramugondo V. Rambau, Silvia Marková, Jeremy S. Herman & Allan D. McDevitt. (2009). The Celtic fringe of Britain: insights from small mammal phylogeography.  Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 276:4287-4294 Impact factor: 4.248
  • McDevitt, AD, Rambau, RV, O'Brien, J, Hayden, TJ & Searle, JB. (2009).  Genetic variation in Irish pygmy shrews Sorex minutus (Soricomorpha: Soricidae): implications for colonization history.  Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 97:918-927. Impact factor: 2.019.
  • Taylor, PJ, Maree, S, Sandwyk, J, Baxter, R & Rambau RV.  (2009).  When is a species not a species? Uncoupled phenotypic, karyotypic and genotypic divergence in two species of South African laminate-toothed rats (Murinae: Otomyini).  Journal of Zoology 277: 317-332. Impact factor: 1.669
  • Searle JB , Jones CS, Gündüz,  Scascitelli, IM,  Jones, E.P., Herman, JS, Rambau, RV, Noble, LS,  Berry, RJ, Giménez, MD, Jóhannesdóttir1,   F.  (2009). Of mice and (Viking?) men: phylogeography of British and Irish house mice. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 276: 201-209– Impact factor: 4.11
  • Theron, N, Elser, K. Dreyer, L, Van Vuuren BJ, Rambau, RV.  (2007).  Genetic and morphological comparisons of a potentially invasive weed (Argemone ochroleuca) from its natural (Mexico) and invaded (South Africa) habitat.  South African Journal of Botany 73 (2): 338-339.  Impact factor: 1.113
  • van Zyl, A, Rambau, R.V., & van der Merwe, M.  (2005).  Aspects of the anatomy and histology of the alimentary canal of the greater cane rat,Thryonomys swinderianus Temmick, with reference to its feeding physiology.  African Zoology 40(1): 25-36. Impact factor: 0.437
  • ., Rambau, R. V., Tez C & Searle, J. B.  (2005).  Mitochondrial DNA variation in the western house (Mus musculus domesticus) close to its site of origin:  studies in Turkey.  Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. Impact factor:  2.368
  • V., Stanyon, R. & Robinson, T. J.  (2003).  Molecular genetics of Rhabdomys pumilio subspecies boundaries: mtDNA Phylogeography and karyotypic analysis by Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH).  Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 28(3): 564-575. Impact factor: 3.871
  • Rambau, R. V. & Robinson, T. J.  (2003).  Chromosome painting in the African four-striped mouse Rhabdomys pumilio:  Detection of possible murid specific contiguous segment combinations.  Chromosome Research. 11: 91-98. Impact factor: 3.405
  • Rambau, R. V., Elder, F. F. B. & Robinson, T. J.  (2001).  Chromosomal evolution of Otomys irroratus (Muridae: Otomyinae):  Compound chromosomal rearrangement separates two major cytogenetic groups.  Cytogenetics and Cell Genetics. 93: 253-257. Impact factor: 1.965
  • Rambau, R. V., Harrison, W. R., Elder, F. F. B. & Robinson, T. J.  (1997).  Chromosomes of Brants' whistling rat and genome conservation in the Otomyinae revealed by G-banding and fluorescence in situ hybridization.  Cytogenetics and Cell Genetics. 78: 153-158.  ​