Contact (aquatic research): Prof. Peter Teske, University of Johannesburg, Auckland Park 2006, Johannesburg, South Africa; Email:

This recently founded research group uses genetic tools to study aquatic animals, with a specific focus on the marine biogeography of southern Africa.  

                                                                                             Photo: Robert Harcourt

Student Projects/Positions:

We invite applications for the following research projects/positions. Interested South African or international students should please contact the laboratory at Bursary support is available for all projects.

Postdoctoral Positions/Career Advancement Fellowships

Emerging researchers wishing to get experience and improve their publication profile are invited to join the lab and suggest a research project of their choice, or contribute to ongoing projects. We are particularly interested in researchers who have experience with next-generation sequencing data analyses (or at least with unix-based bioinformatics). For details on deadlines and eligibility, please see


South African or foreign researchers holding a PhD can apply for NRF Free-Standing Postdoctoral Fellowships (R150 000 + R10 000 for travel).

Career Advancement Fellowhips:

South Africans with a minimum of two years of postdoctoral experience can apply for funding via the NRF's Career Advancement Fellowship Programme (R350 000 per year + 100 000 for research). 

Masters or PhD project: Adaptive divergence (aquaculture) - - from early 2015
Adaptive divergence in a coastal crab across the Atlantic/Indian Ocean biogeographic disjunction. This projects involves the rearing of crab larvae from South Africa's west coast under a range of temperatures, and recording their survival. These data will then be compared with previously generated data from a south coast population to determine whether the two evolutionary lineages of this species are adapted to different temperature regimes that characterise their respective habitats. The project can be upgraded to a PhD by rearing larvae from a third site (south-west coast) where both lineages occur in sympatry, and generating genetic data to distinguish them. Students should have experience in physiological work and/or aquaculture, and will be based in Durban for the duration of the laboratory work.

Got a gap year and want to get involved in some interesting research? In most cases, our interns get their own projects and are expected to publish at least one paper. 

Latest Publications:

Teske PR, Sandoval-Castillo J, van Sebille E, Waters J, Beheregaray LB (2015)
On-shelf larval retention limits population connectivity in a coastal broadcast spawner. Marine Ecology Progress Series 531:1-12 Selected as "Feature Article" for the July 2015 edition

Boundary currents (such as the East Australian Current, the California Current and the Agulhas Current) are often considered to be the primary drivers of connectivity among populations of coastal species. Using a combination of microsatellite data and oceanographic modelling, we show that boundary currents in temperate southern Australia are not particularly important in maintaining connectivity in the coastal snail Nerita atramentosa, a species whose larvae remain in the plankton for several months. Few of the species' larvae ever reach the region's boundary currents, and those that do will not return to the coast in time to complete development. As a result, the species' genetic structure follows a pattern of "isolation by geographic distance", suggesting that most planktonic larvae settle close to their parent habitat.

Teske PR, Sandoval-Castillo J, Waters J, Beheregaray LB (2014)
Can novel genetic analyses help to identify low-dispersal marine invasive species? Ecology and Evolution 4:2848-2866.
The genetic study of introduced species is presently dominated by analyses that identify signature of recent colonisation by means of summary statistics. Unfortunately, such approaches cannot be used in low-dispersal species, in which recently established populations originating from elsewhere in the species' native range also experience periods of low population size because they are founded by few individuals. We tested whether coalescent-based molecular analyses that provide detailed information about demographic history support the hypothesis that a sea squirt whose distribution is centered on Tasmaniaq was recently introduced to mainland Australia and New Zealand. Methods comparing trends in population size were no more informative than summary statistics, likely because of recent intra-Tasmanian dispersal. However, estimates of divergence between putatively native and introduced populations provided information at a temporal scale suitable to differentiate between recent introductions and ancient divergence, and confirmed that all three non-Tasmanian populations were founded during the period of European settlement.

Teske PR, Papadopoulos I, Barker NP, McQuaid CD, Beheregaray LB (2014)
Mitonuclear discordance in genetic structure across the Atlantic/Indian Ocean biogeographical transition zone. Journal of Biogeography 41: 293-401.
Many organisms with ranges spanning multiple biogeographical regions are genetically sructured across the transition zones on the basis of mitochondrial DNA, while others appear to be genetically homogenous. No clear link has been found between the presence and absence of genetic structure and species' dispersal potential. We identified clear biogeography-linked nuclear DNA genetic structure in a coastal invertebrate that has no mtDNA-based structure. This result stresses the importance of revisiting single-locus data sets by means of multi-locus genetic approaches before any conclusions can be drawn about the role of biogeographical transition zones in driving genetic structure.

Teske PR, Papadopoulos I, Barker NP, McQuaid CD (2013)
Disperal barriers and stochastic reproductive success do not explain small-scale genetic structure in a broadcast-dispersing mussel. Marine Ecology Progress Series 482: 133-140.
Females of the marine mussel Perna perna are genetically structured between bays and the open coast, but we found no strong support for two commonly invoked pre-settlement factors that could explain small-scale genetic structure within coastal regions. Genetic heterogeneity could not be explained by nearshore circulation resulting in asymmetrical dispersal, nor did we find evidence for temporal changes in population structure resulting from chance mating success. While we cannot presently explain the mechanism that has driven genetic structure in female P. perna, our study points to a role for species- and gender-specific adaptive constraints in driving genetic structure. 

Teske PR, Zardi GI, McQuaid CD, Nicastro K (2013)
Two sides of the same coin: extinctions and originations across the Atlantic/Indian Ocean boundary as a consequence of the same climate oscillation. Frontiers of Biogeography 5: 48-59.
We discuss a model of range extension followed by divergence, in which the same climate oscillations that resulted in the extinction of coastal species in south-western Africa also sowed the seeds of new biodiversity.