Masters Students (Dissertation)

Campbell Fleming

   Campbell Fleming
   BSc (Hons) (UCT)

   H.W. Pearson bldg: Room 3.19


Born in London, England, Campbell grew up in South Africa and has been (more or less) obsessed with birds since the age of 10 after seeing his first bearded vulture in the Drakensberg Mountains. After school, he enrolled at UCT, completing his bachelors degree in biochemistry, human physiology and ecology and evolution in 2014 and honours degree in biological sciences in 2015. As part of his honours degree, Campbell worked on generating a phylogeny for a small group of fynbos-endemic paper-daisies (and used it, along with other published phylogenies, to answer some interesting evolutionary questions) and figuring why Black Sparrowhawks (Accipiter melanoleucus) bring green leaves into their nests. [Very] broadly, Campbell’s research interests include ecology and evolution. More specifically, he is interested in the use of molecular methods as a potentially powerful tool to answer questions in these fields and enhance our ability to conserve our planet’s biodiversity.

In his MSc dissertation, he intends to apply molecular methods to the conservation of fynbos-endemic birds. Fynbos-endemic birds occupy a small and shrinking habitat that is a biodiversity hotspot, comprising over 9 000 species of flowering plants. By exploring movements of these birds during times of significant paleoclimatic change, we may better understand their ability to adapt to current climate and land use change. He will collect and analyse DNA samples from feathers and blood of Cape sugarbirds (Promerops cafer) and orange-breasted sunbirds (Anthobaphes violacea) to assess paleo gene flow between populations and better understand dispersal capabilities in these species. If timing allows, sampling will be expanded to some of the other six fynbos-endemic passerines. The results of this study will help to predict how fynbos-endemic birds may be affected by climate change and will inform management actions to facilitate adaptation to climate and land use change in highly transformed landscapes.


Understanding palaeo gene flow as a backdrop to current climate change adaptation options for fynbos-endemic birds. (Supervisors:  Jacqueline Bishop, Phoebe Barnard, and Peter Ryan).