Ben Brooker


Institution: University of KwaZulu-Natal

Unit and Faculty: School of Life Sciences, College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science

Research field: Ecosystem modelling: Estuarine ecosystems

Supervisor: Prof Ursula Scharler, School of Life Sciences, UKZN



Ben grew up in Somerset West, South Africa. He completed his four-year undergraduate BSc degree at Stellenbosch University, and his MSc in Applied Marine Sciences at the University of Cape Town in 2016. During the course of his MSc, he gained an understanding of various fields of ocean science, ranging from fisheries management to modelling ocean systems and conducted research on marine bio-invasions. His PhD will attempt to quantify an existing qualitative framework for the state shifts of temporarily open-closed estuaries (TOCEs) in South Africa. He will create food- web models using existing data and analyse components of the systems using Ecological Network Analysis (ENA). The anticipated outcome of the analyses is a framework of network indices that delineate system state for TOCEs. This research will contribute towards addressing issues in catchment management, as the modelling approach coupled with the indices will provide predictive power for potential management decisions. When not working, Ben enjoys ocean-related activities, including scuba diving and surfing, as well as hiking and social sports.