Ursula Scharler

Professor at the School of Life Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) Westville Campus, Durban South Africa.

E-Mail: scharler(at)ukzn.ac.za
Ph: +27 (0)31 260 1605

Prof U Scharler


We are situated in subtropical Durban, South Africa, at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. We engage in several research activities that fall into the broad fields of ecology and ecological modelling.

One focus of the lab is food web ecology, ecosystem ecology and network science. We are interested in the structure and functioning of food webs, with an eye towards persistence, resilience and sustainability. Within this focus we study several themes. One of these are methods to construct weighted networks and how different construction methods influence network analysis outcomes and our understanding of particular systems. Secondly, we are working on node-community-ecosystem hierarchies and their influence on one another. Thirdly, we investigate system level responses of estuaries, their catchments, their inter-connectivity and communication with the nearshore marine environment. We are also interested in the influence of marine canyons on food webs in their vicinity. Other network related themes include that of nutrient stoichiometry, information embedded in systems, and the influence of ecological variability and biodiversity on the resilience of ecosystems during natural, and anthropogenically altered conditions.

Our second major focus is that of ecology. The lab engages in marine, estuarine and coastal ecology and we conduct fieldwork in temporarily open/closed and permanently open estuaries, other coastal ecosystems and the nearshore marine environment. Our focus is on water quality, microplankton and pelagic and benthic invertebrates. We are interested in how short and long-term environmental conditions in the catchment and estuary change biotic communities, and what type of communities we may expect in future ecosystems. Data generated through fieldwork inform our models, putting us in a good position to assess model outcomes.

If you are interested in joining our lab, please send an email to scharler(at)ukzn.ac.za, stating your interests and CV.