I am a biologist with a main research focus on invasion biology and population genetics of plant species. I am particularly interested in how invasion processes shape the genetic constitution and the evolutionary potential of non-native populations and how these information can be used for management approaches.
Currently, I have a position at the Stellenbosch University as a postdoctoral research fellow and my work is orientated on the genetics of invasive acacias (i.e. Acacia dealbata). My work includes a broad variety of molecular genetic methods and considers 1) environmental factors and artificial selection as potential drivers for intra-specific genetic patterns and 2) co-evolutionary processes between acacias and associated insects. 

Further, I recently started to work on a project which aims to compile a species profile of the tree Eucalyptus camaldulensis which is considered invasive in South Africa. This pilot project aims to collect information like introduction and planting history, current distribution, associated pests and pathogens, uses of the species, conflicts of interest, management options and further research needs, and will provide a valuable foundation for similar projects in the future to increase our knowledge on currently less well-known invasive species in South Africa. 

Besides invasion biology, I am also interested in the influence of human activities and/or landscape aspects on the genetic characteristics of threatened or declining species.

             Flowering Acacia dealbata                                                 Invaded grasslands in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa


Dr. Heidi Hirsch

Dept. of Botany & Zoology
Private Bag X1
Matieland 7602
South Africa

Email: hirsch@sun.ac.za
Email: heidihirsch71@googlemail.com
Phone: +27 (0)218083396