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Nengovhela Aluwani

NENGOVHELA Aluwani
Position
PhD student, Université Toulouse III Paul Sabatier

Contact : aluwani.nengovhela@univ-tlse3.fr

Research Topic
3D Cranial Morphometry, Sensory Ecology and Climate Change in African Rodents

Current Research
My current project, conducted under the supervision of Pr. J. Braga (University Toulouse III, Paul Sabatier) and Pr. P.J Taylor (University of Venda) primarily focuses on investigating temporal changes in both cranial size and shape of selected African rodent species from different environments and life histories (e.g. from different biomes from grassland to desert and from herbivores to seed-eaters, as well as from commensal species living in close proximity to humans as well as those species occurring only in specialized habitats). As a sub-theme, the study is also exploring the functional basis of inner ear, endocranium, dentine and auditory bullae in desert and mesic Otomyinae and Gerbillinae rodents (and whether these structures have been affected by climate change and associated vegetation/ environmental changes). There is an emerging body of research in this important field, often termed the "third universal response to global warming", but nothing has been done in Africa, and studies to date have focused only on size changes, neglecting the important component of cranial shape. The project will use both more effective cutting-edge geometric morphometric technology (Micro-CT scanners) and excellent historical series of specimens in France (Paris Museum of Natural History), and South Africa (Ditsong Museum of Natural History, Pretoria and Durban Natural History Museum).

Bibliography

Publications
Nengovhela, A., Baxter, R. M. & Taylor, P. J. 2015. Temporal changes in cranial size in South African vlei rats (Otomys) : evidence for the “third universal response to warming”. African Zoology, 50 (3) ; 233-239.
Peter John Taylor, Aluwani Nengovhela, Jabulani Linden and Roderick M. Baxter. 2015. Past, present and future distribution of Afromontane rodents (Muridae : Otomys) reflect climate-change predicted biome changes. Mammalia, DOI : 10.1515/mammalia-2015-0033.

Research Experiences / Conference Outputs
2011 Does climate change spell extinction for Limpopo vlei rats ? Southern African Society for Systematic Biology conference, Rhodes, (19-21 January)
2012 Investigating past, present and future distribution of cryptic species of vlei rats (Otomys auratus and O. angoniensis) in South Africa, with a focus on Limpopo 4 Province. South African environmental Observation Network, Graduate Student Network (SAEON, GSN) Indibano conference, KwaZulu-Natal, (26-29 August).
2013 Past, present and future distribution of cryptic species of vlei rats (Otomys auratus, O. irroratus s.s and O. angoniensis) in South Africa, with a focus on Limpopo Province. The Zoological Society of Southern Africa conference, Forever Resort Tshipise, (14-17 July).
2013 Past, present and future distribution of cryptic species of vlei rats (Otomys auratus, O. irroratus s.s and O. angoniensis) in South Africa, with a focus in the northern great escarpment. Biodiversity Southern Africa conference, University of Cape Town, (03-06 December)
2014 Present and future distribution of cryptic species of vlei rats (Otomys auratus, O. irroratus s.s and O. angoniensis) in South Africa, with a focus in the northern great escarpment. The 5th International conference on Rodent Biology and Management, China (25-29 August).
2014 (Co-author) Afromontane small mammals feel the heat. Symposium of contemporary conservation practice, Howick, KwaZulu-Natal, (03-07 November).
2015 Historical, geographical and morphological changes of two cryptic species of Vlei rats (Otomys angoniensis and O. auratus) in the northern escarpment, South Africa. The 12th African Small Mammal Symposium, Mantasoa, Madagascar, (12-17 April).
2015 (Co-author) Afromontane small mammals feel the heat. The 12th African Small Mammal Symposium, Mantasoa, Madagascar, (12-17 April).