Doctoral students

Selena Flores

Selena Flores
BSc (San Diego State)


Hailing from coastal Southern California, Selena had great love for the beach, ocean, and nature from the start. Thus, with her passion for scientific research and conservation, studying animals that live near the sea has simply made sense. Though initially focusing on marine mammals and invertebrates, she found her love for birds quite late in her academic career, but ornithology quickly replaced all other pursuits. Since graduating with a BSc in Zoology from San Diego State University in 2007, Selena has tried her hand at many things in many places - teaching in California, seabird rehabilitation and zookeeping in Hawaii, and working in well-known ornithology specimen collections at natural history museums in Honolulu, Los Angeles and New York City. While with the Western Snowy Plover and California Least Tern species recovery and conservation plans in Central California, she caught the field bug, and there was no turning back.

Since arriving in South Africa in 2013, Selena has worked with penguins and other seabirds at SANCCOB, and been involved with fieldwork for recent Fitz projects. Calling upon her few years experience with a successful shorebird and coastal management programme, Selena is now conducting research examining the effects of human activity and other factors on breeding success of White-fronted Plover and African Black Oystercatcher along a high-tourism region of South Africa’s Garden Route. Considering shorebirds like the White-fronted Plover have gone through considerable population decline in the last 3 decades, developing an appropriate conservation management plan to balance human activity and coastal protection measures in a growing area is necessary, and is a planned deliverable of this research. This project is in conjunction with Dr. Mark Brown (UKZN) and the Nature’s Valley Trust, and funded by a DST-NRF Centre of Excellence award.

General research interests: Assessment and management of anthropogenic impacts on coastal and pelagic birds, evaluation of implemented conservation measures, preparation of natural history specimens and their research applications, conservation genetics and systematics.


The effects of anthropogenic disturbance of beaches on breeding shorebirds in the high-tourism Garden Route region of South Africa. (Supervisors: Peter Ryan and Mark Brown).