Colleen T. Downs
Prof. Colleen T. Downs is a South African Research Chair and has been based at the University of KwaZulu-Natal since 1994. Her research interests are broad and interdisciplinary, spanning the conservation, ecology, physiology and behavior of terrestrial vertebrates with changing land use. This includes ecosystem health in KwaZulu-Natal, incorporating conservation, general biology and persistence of mammal, herpetological and bird species with changing land use (including urban ecology). There is a focus on species such as Cape parrots, bushbuck, oribi, pelicans, Cape vultures, Nile crocodiles, fruit bats, raptors, small carnivores and feral cats. Her other key contribution has been in the development of increased research capacity at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Her research group is currently investigating ecosystem health and functionality across a range of taxa and biomes in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal Provinces of South Africa, with a focus on species distributions, persistence and anthropogenic threats. They have also produced recommendations for conservation and landscape managers on how best to preserve ecosystem functionality based on sound ecological research.