UCT expertise for book on Prince Edwards Islands

21 July 2008

Five UCT staffers have contributed their considerable knowledge of the vast Southern Ocean marine and islands ecosystems to a new book that gathers 60 years of research by South African scientists and their colleagues on the Prince Edward Islands.

These islands, including Marion Island and Prince Edward Island, the peaks of two largely submarine volcanoes, are situated about 2 000km from South Africa and 2 300km from Antarctica.

They are the most southerly part of South Africa's official territory.

The researchers are Professor Johann Lutjeharms and Dr Isabelle Ansorge of the Department of Oceanography, the Animal Demography Unit's Dr Marienne de Villiers and John Cooper, as well as Professor Peter Ryan of the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology.

The book, The Prince Edward Islands - Land-sea interactions in a changing ecosystem, is edited by Professor Steven Chown, director of the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence for Invasion Biology at Stellenbosch University and Prof William Froneman, director of the Southern Ocean Group at Rhodes University.

It was recently launched aboard the South African Antarctic research and supply ship the SA Agulhas.

A number of scientific expeditions visited the area in the late 1800s, gaining impetus after the islands were annexed in 1947. In 1965/66 the late Professor EM van Zinderen Bakker led a group of South African biologists and geologists to the islands for the first formal scientific expedition.

A formal, interdisciplinary programme has continued at the islands since, growing to include a wide range of disciplines.

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