Avian Demography Unit
Department of Statistical Sciences
University of Cape Town
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Marienne de Villiers Marienne de Villiers
SARCA Project Co-ordinator

Marienne is co-ordinator of the Southern African Reptile Conservation Assessment (SARCA). The aim of this project is to improve our understanding of the diversity and distribution of reptiles in South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland, and thereby make possible an improvement in the conservation status of these animals. The project relies on input from expert herpetologists, museum records and members of the public, and boasts Africa's first virtual natural history museum. SARCA is a four-year project which will culminate in 2009 with the publication of a conservation assessment report for the region's reptiles.
Marienne did her BSc degree at the University of Natal, Durban and her Honours degree in Marine Biology at the University of Cape Town. She then completed a Higher Diploma in education at the University of Natal and worked for a year as a Maths teacher. She resumed her studies, focusing on the feeding ecology of Cape Porcupines for an MSc at the University of Pretoria.

With Hobbit at Nysvlei Nature Reserve
Holding Yellow-nosed Albatross chick (photo Brian Bowie)

Marienne then worked on stress and social dynamics of African Wild Dogs and finished her PhD in 1995. For a few months in 1995, she monitored a captive pack of wild dogs scheduled for reintroduction at Madikwe Game Reserve. In 1996, she worked for Gus Mills on the Kruger National Park wild dog project. From 1994 to 1996, she acted as Species Co-ordinator for African Wild Dogs under the auspices of the African Preservation Programme of PAAZAB (Pan African Association for Zoological Gardens, Botanical Gardens and Aquaria). From July 1997 to March 1999, Marienne worked as a Marine Geophysical Surveyor for Ocean Diamond Mining Ltd, collecting navigation, seismic and side-scan data off the coast of Namibia. She was then self-employed as a freelance researcher/surveyor/tour guide for the next three years.

After joining a team of biologists on a trip to the Prince Edward Islands to conduct a seabird census in December 2001, Marienne joined the Avian Demography Unit as a post-doctoral researcher. She has since made a number of trips to Marion Island in the course of her research into the effects of human disturbance on the behaviour and physiology of breeding seabirds (mainly albatrosses). From Jan - March 2007, she joined John Cooper on an expedition to Gough Island, monitoring the Tristan Albatross population and helping to eradicate an alien plant species.

1. Papers in refereed journals

  • de Villiers, M.S., Cooper, J., Carmichael, N., Glass, J.P., Liddle, G.M., McIvor, E., Micol, T. & Roberts, R. 2006. Conservation management at Southern Ocean Islands: towards the development of best-practice guidelines. Polarforschung 75 (2-3): 113-131.
  • de Villiers, M.S., Bause, M., Giese, M. & Fourie, A. 2006. Hardly hard-hearted: Heart rate responses of incubating Northern Giant Petrels (Macronectes halli) to human disturbance on sub-Antarctic Marion Island. Polar Biol. 29: 717. PDF (201 Kb)
  • de Bruyn, P.J.N., Hofmeyr, G.J.G. & de Villiers, M.S. 2006. First record of a vagrant Commerson's dolphin Cephalorhynchus commersonii at the southern African continental shelf. African Zoology 41 (1): 131-133. PDF (294 Kb)
  • de Villiers, M.S., Cooper, J. & Ryan, P.G. 2005. Individual variability of behavioural responses by Wandering Albatrosses (Diomedea exulans) to human disturbance. Polar Biology 28 (4): 255-260. PDF (251 Kb)
  • de Villiers, M.S. & de Bruyn, P.J.N. 2004. Stone-swallowing by three species of penguins at sub-Antarctic Marion Island. Marine Ornithology 32(2): 183-184. PDF (42 Kb)
  • Cooper, J., de Villiers, M.S. & McGeoch, M.A. 2003. Quarantine measures to halt alien invasions of Southern Ocean Islands: the South African experience (Prince Edward Islands special Nature Reserve). Aliens 17: 37-39.
  • Crawford, R.J.M., Cooper, J., Dyer, B.M., Greyling, M.D., Klages, N.T.W., Ryan, P.G., Petersen, S.L., Underhill, L.G., Upfold, L., Wilkinson, W., de Villiers, M.S., du Plessis, S., Du Toit, M., Leshoro, T.M., Makhado, A.B., Mason, M.S., Merkle, D., Tshingana, D., Ward, V.L. & Whittington, P.A. 2003. Populations of surface-nesting seabirds at Marion Island, 1994/5-2002/3. Afr. J. Mar. Sci. 25: 427-440.
  • de Villiers, M.S., Richardson, P.R.K. & van Jaarsveld, A.S. 2003. Patterns of coalition formation and spatial association in a social carnivore, the African wild dog Lycaon pictus. J. Zool., Lond. 260: 377-389. PDF (166 Kb)
  • Frantzen, M.A.J., Ferguson, J.W.H. & de Villiers, M.S. 2001. The conservation role of African wild dogs. Biol. Cons. 100: 253-260. PDF (409 Kb)
  • King, J.M., Tharme, R.E. & de Villiers, M.S. 2000. Environmental Flow Assessments for Rivers: Manual for the Building Block Methodology. WRC Technology Transfer Report No. TT 131/00, Freshwater Research Unit, University of Cape Town. Pp 340.
  • de Villiers, M.S., Van Jaarsveld, A.S., Meltzer, D.G.A. & Richardson, P.R.K. 1997. Social dynamics and the cortisol response to immobilisation stress of the African wild dog, Lycaon pictus. Horm. Behav. 31: 3-14. PDF (172 Kb)
  • de Villiers, M.S., Meltzer, D.G.A., Van Heerden, J., Mills, M.G.L., Richardson, P.R.K. & Van Jaarsveld, A.S. 1995. Handling-induced stress and mortalities in wild dogs. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B 262: 215-220. PDF (224 Kb)
  • de Villiers, M.S., Van Aarde, R.J. & Dott, H.M. 1994. Habitat utilization by the Cape porcupine Hystrix africaeaustralis in a savanna ecosystem. J. Zool., Lond. 232: 534-549.
  • de Villiers, M.S. & Van Aarde, R.J. 1994. Aspects of habitat disturbance by Cape porcupines in a savanna ecosystem. S. Afr. J. Zool. 29: 217-220.
  • de Villiers, M.S. 1993. A comparison of subterranean herbivory by fossorial and terrestrial mammals. Trans. Roy. Soc. S. Afr. 48: 257-264.
  • Davies, B.R., Stuart, V. & de Villiers, M.S. 1989. The filtration activity of a serpulid polychaete population (Ficopomatus enigmaticus) and its' effects on water quality in a coastal marina. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 29: 613-620

Unpublished reports

  • de Villiers, M.S. & Cooper, J. 2007. Eradicating the invasive alien, Sagina procumbens (the Procumbent Pearlwort). Training CD for the Tristan Agricultural & Natural Resources Department.
  • de Villiers, M.S. 2004. Conservation report: Marion Island construction voyage, 12-26 November 2004. Unpublished report pp 11.
  • de Villiers, M.S. 2004. Conservation report: Marion Island construction voyage, 5-27 August 2004. Unpublished report pp 13.
  • de Villiers, M.S. 2004. Conservation Report: Marion Island take-over, April-May 2004. Unpublished Report, pp 14.
  • de Villiers, M.S., Calf, K.M., Dyer, B.M., Harebottle, D.M., Mecenero, S., Oschadleus, H.D. & Ward, V.L. 2003. The Institute of Ecology (Friederich-Schiller University, Jena) and Avian Demography Unit (University of Cape Town) Collaborative Research Project, 20 September - 9 October 2003. Report for the Western Cape Nature Conservation Board and the Robben Island Museum. ADU Research Report Nr 53, pp 11.
  • Cooper, J. & de Villiers, M.S. 2003. Conservation Report: Marion Island take-over, March-April 2003. Unpublished Report, pp 22.
  • du Toit M., Boere G.C., Cooper J., de Villiers, M.S., Kemper J., Lenten B., Petersen S.L., Simmons R.E., Underhill, L.G., Whittington P.A. & Byers O.P. (Eds). 2003. Conservation Assessment and Management Plan for Southern African Seabirds. Cape Town: Avian Demography Unit, University of Cape Town & Apple Valley: Conservation Breeding Specialist Group.
  • de Villiers, M.S. & Frantzen, M.A.J. 1996. South African APP Regional Studbook for the African Wild Dog (Lycaon pictus).
  • de Villiers, M.S. 1995. Guidelines for holding African wild dogs in captivity. Unpublished manuscript. Pp. 2.
  • Frantzen, M.A.J. & de Villiers, M.S. 1994. African Preservation Programme Studbook for the African Wild Dog, Lycaon pictus. Pp. 58.

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