Chantal Helm BSc MRes PhD
is a terrestrial ecologist with wide ranging interests in wildlife
management, conservation, plant ecology, plant
herbivore interactions and monitoring and survey techniques of
wildlife. She has extensive research experience in
large conservation areas in South Africa including the Kruger National
Park and hence has an understanding of
conservation working practices in Southern Africa. Projects she has
undertaken as part of her studies include
producing an ecological assessment and management plan for an 1100 ha
game reserve and an investigation of
habitat selection, behavioural ecology and population dynamics of two
closely related wildebeest species. Both
projects involved extensive fieldwork. Her doctoral studies were
carried out in collaboration with academics from the
Animal Ecology Research Group at the University of the Witwatersrand,
the Centre for Tropical Studies and the
University of Cape Town. The thesis investigates population dynamics
and autecology of a keystone savannah tree
specifically focussing on responses to disturbances such as herbivory
and fire and includes a modelling component.
The doctoral examiners indicated that the study would set a bench mark
for future studies on African savannah trees
and Chantal has since had four papers published in peer reviewed
international journals, with a further four papers
expected. She has presented the results of her research at
international conferences held in various locations
including South Africa, Australia and France.
academic studies have enabled Chantal to develop an extensive set of
ecological skills including wildlife habitat
assessments, plant identification, vegetation surveying, water quality
monitoring and alien plant control. Chantal also
has experience in statistical data analysis, population modelling and
basic GIS, with proficiencies in ArcGIS, Photoshop
and a variety of graphic viewing and manipulating programmes. Having
been employed as a teaching assistant and
lecturer during her doctoral studies at the University of the
Witwatersrand, she spent a year as a Teaching Fellow at
the University of Bath after completing her doctorate, teaching plant
diversity, ecology and biostatistics to
Having worked at the University of Hertfordshire for a number of years, Chantal has moved on to the Cambridge University Botanic Garden, but continues to work with us on a number of research and teaching activities.
C.V. & Witkowski, E.T.F. (2012). Continuing decline of a
keystone tree species in the Kruger National Park, South Africa. African
Journal of Ecology, 51(2): 270-279. DOI.
C.V. & Witkowski, E.T.F. (2012). Characterising wide spatial
variation in population structure of a keystone African savanna tree. Forest
Ecology and Management, 263: 175-188. DOI.
C.V., Scott, S. & Witkowski, E.T.F. (2011). Reproductive
potential and seed fate of Sclerocarya birrea subsp. caffra (marula) in
the low altitude savannas of South Africa. South African
Journal of Botany, 77(3): 650-674. DOI.
C., Wilson, G., Midgley, J., Kruger, L. & Witkowski, E.T.F.
(2011). Investigating the vulnerability of an African savanna tree
(Sclerocarya birrea subsp. caffra) to fire and herbivory. Austral
Ecology, 36(8): 964-973. DOI.
C.V., Witkowski, E.T.F., Kruger, L., Hofmeyr, M., and Owen-Smith, N.
(2009). Mortality and utilisation of Sclerocarya birrea subsp. caffra
between 2001 and 2008 in the Kruger National Park, South Africa. South
African Journal of Botany, 75(3):
C.V. & Witkowski, E.T.F. (2008). What don't we know about
Sclerocarya birrea subsp. caffra? South African Journal of
Botany, 74(2): 387. DOI.
to UH profile page.