Biology prizes for senior students

08 February 2008 | Story by Helen Théron

Postgraduate students Sarah Goodier and Riashna Sithaldeen have won the best presentation oral on paper by a master's student and the best poster in systematics and phylogenetics, respectively.

The awards came at the Southern African Society of Systematic Biology conference, held in association with the South African Association of Biology.

An MSc student in molecular and cell biology, Goodier's presentation was on the phylogeography of the tigerfish (Hydrocynus vittatus) in south-central Africa.

Goodier's tigerfish study combined molecular genetics and geomorphological (AEON, UCT) data to show how biological patterns relate to the drainage topology across the subcontinent's rivers.

"Patterns of genetic variation of the mitochondrial control region in studied populations have indicated relationships that have allowed for the formulation of a hypothesis, revealing how and from where, they came to inhabit their present locations."

Sithaldeen's archaeology poster, part of her PhD research in archaeology, was about the biogeography of Chacma baboons (Papio ursinus) across Southern Africa.

Her research shows how the phylogeny of the chacma baboon reveals ancient lineages with distinct geographic boundaries. Their genetic diversity and structuring, particularly their evolutionary history, is a response to climatic and landscape changes in the past two million years (the Quaternary).

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