My primary research interests are the mechanisms by which ecosystems and species assemblages are maintained or modified. Impacts on biodiversity, necessarily, impact the composition and functioning of both ecosystems and more narrowly species assemblages. Consequently, without having insight into African biodiversity and how it responds to modification, it is impossible to understand how our systems function and what the likely impacts of future developments and impacts are likely to be.
My work in the Kalahari and the Karoo focuses on investigating the ecology of mesopredators in both modified and natural systems. Without a doubt, the presence of specific mesopredators on stock farms has an influence both on human activity and livelihoods. Predation on small stock influences the profitability of stock farms and leads to various modifications of human activity. Farmers alter their behaviour to try to prevent or at least mitigate against losses of stock to predation. On a broader level, although predation is one of a number of stressors on small stock farmers, the reduced profitability of small stock farming as a consequence of such stressors has to lead to a reduction in the number of stock farming enterprises, farmers altering their management focus to a more diversified stocking/management strategy that includes lower densities of small stock and more wild animals. In the extreme, farmers have abandoned their farms and moved to more urban areas or they have decided to move to different areas and pursue farming of a different nature.