Applied Behavioural Ecology & Ecosystem Research Unit (ABEERU)

The “Applied Behavioural Ecological & Ecosystem Research Unit (ABEERU)” was established in 2003. The unit resulted from international academic research collaboration on a research project registered at UNISA. This project resulted in the different specialists involved realising that their combined efforts has broad academically and practical applications.  The intention of the ABEERU is to provide appropriate research training to UNISA based learners via both coursework and research and to offer appropriate research services to the broader community.

ABEERU conducts basic and applied research to solve industry-related problems within the field of behavioural ecology.  The scope of research focuses on the reaction of all components (biotic and abiotic) of ecosystems to changes in the urban and natural environment. This integrated approach has clear academic and practical value and is in line with UNISA education philosophy and of the approach followed by the National Research Foundation of establishing and supporting centres of excellence involving interdisciplinary research teams.

This basic knowledge will be applied to improve management and understanding of these ecosystems to ensure sustainability and biodiversity.

Research is conducted to acquire knowledge on indigenous wildlife and vegetation (species and habitats) in our natural environment as well as the monitoring of their reaction to these measures. The focus also falls on the management of the associated cultural resources in order to ensure optimised and responsible utilisation of resources to the advantage of all involved, without destroying them.

Research Unit Organisation The unit functions as a centre of excellence within the College of Agriculture & Environmental Sciences. The unit is managed by an advisory member panel consisting of Prof. LR Brown (Head: ABEERU - UNISA), Prof. SP Henzi (University of Lancashire - UK), Prof L Barrett (University of Lanchashire - UK) and Prof R Bshary (Université de Neuchâtel - Switzerland).  The dean of research is ex officio a member of the panel.

Target market Learners nationally, regionally and internationally interested in this field are targeted. This will include people employed or interested in the fields of nature conservation and related fields.

Infrastructure The unit has a permanent research facility at the Loskop Dam Nature Reserve, Mpumalanga Province, South Africa. The site can comfortably accommodate seven researchers at a time, but could accommodate 14 people. The site comprises four (4) student huts, a lecturers hut, an ablution facility, and a kitchen/seminar room and lapa area. The kitchen is fully equipped.