Invasive Species Research & Management Unit
Chinhoyi University of Technology

Directorate of Invasive Species Research and Management Unit

Director
Professor Arnold Bray Mashingaidze

The Invasive Species Research and Management Unit (ISRMU) was formed in August 2012 to carry out research on invasive species starting with water hyacinth to gain insights into long term and sustainable strategies to effectively manage invasive species and reduce the damage they cause to economic activities and the environment in Zimbabwe. The mandate of the Invasive Species Research and Management Unit is to carry out research under local ecological conditions to understand the biology, ecology and populations dynamics of invasive species in relation to abiotic and biotic factors in Zimbabwe and develop integrated and sustainable strategies to manage exploding populations of these species. Because of problems that are currently being caused by exploding mats of water hyacinth nationwide especially in Lake Chivero and the Manyame river system, it was decided to start research, advocacy and extension work on the management of water hyacinth and extend the work to other species as more personnel and resources become available.



As of now (October 2014), the unit has extended its work to other invasive species that are threatening the livelihoods and economic well-being of thousands of people in Zimbabwe such as the jumping cholla (Cylindropuntia fulgida) in Matebeleland and the Australian Red Claw Crayfish (Cherax quadricarinatus) in Lake Kariba. In particular, the Unit is charged with developing local research skills in invasive species ecology and management by engaging students at MSc, MPhil and PhD level to do their research on aspects of the biology, ecology and management of invasive species and generate relevant and durable solutions to the economic and environmental problems caused by these species in Zimbabwe. The work of the Unit is predicated on the assumption that locally relevant ecological information on relationships among invasive species, biological control agents, environmental parameters and various control methods can be integrated to come up with sustainable management strategies invasive species in Zimbabwe.

Vision

The vision of the unit is to be a centre of excellence for research in invasive species ecology and management in Zimbabwe and to be seen as such by all stakeholders in Zimbabwe and in the region.

Mission

The mission of the unit is to carry out research on the biology and ecology of invasive species and produce sustainable management strategies for managing exploding populations of invasive species and minimizing the damage they cause in Zimbabwe.

About us

The Invasive Species Research and Management Unit (IRSMU) is organized into five thematic areas of focus for the research, advocacy and outreach work on invasive species viz. Ecology and Environment, Host-Plant Biological Control Agent Interactions, Management and Control, Ecological Services and Utilization, and Integration and Modelling. The mandate of theme leaders is to identify research topics under their theme, write proposals to mobilize research funds and recruit and supervise Masters and PhD students.


Professor A. B. Mashingaidze, BSc Agric Hons (Crop Science), UZ; MS Agronomy, Iowa State, USA; PhD Crop Weed Ecology, Wageningen, the Netherlands; is the Director of the Unit. His responsibility is to provide leadership in consultation with theme leaders in generating and prioritizing research themes and topics, writing proposals to generate funds for research, outreach and advocacy activities on invasive species in Zimbabwe and fostering of collaborative activities with national, regional and international partners. His research interests and publications are in weed ecology and management and pesticide science. He is also the leader for the for the Management and Control thematic research area.

Professor T. Bere , PhD Ecology and Natural Resources, UFScar-SP, Brazil; MSc Tropical Hydrobiology and Fisheries, UZ; BSc Biological Sciences, UZ; is the theme leader for the Ecology and Environment thematic area. He is a freshwater ecologist with a mounting research and publication record in the area. His research interests are in river health assessment, biological monitoring of aquatic systems, aquatic eco-toxicology, ecological modelling and bio-remediation of freshwater systems.

Dr R. Musundire , PhD Entomology, Pretoria; MSc Crop Protection, UZ; BSc Agric Hons (Crop Science), UZ; is the theme leader for the Host Plant and Biological Control Agent Interactions thematic group. He is a research entomologist affiliated to the International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology in Nairobi and with previous experience at Tobacco Research Board and Plant Protection Institute of D&RSS. His research interests are in sustainable management of invasive species, host-natural enemy interactions and post-harvest entomology. He has a number of publications in high impact journals in these areas

Dr C. Murungweni , PhD in vulnerability and resilience of agricultural systems, Wageningen, The Netherlands; MSc in Animal Science, UZ; BSc Agric Hons, UZ; is the theme leader for the Ecological Services and Utilization thematic area. He is an animal nutritionist with 11 years of experience as Head of the ruminant livestock research unit at Grasslands Research Station. His research interests are in the formulation of novel home-made diets for ruminant livestock, nutritional biochemistry and forage science. He has several publications in high impact factor journals in these areas.

Professor F.T. Mugabe, PhD Water Resources Management, UZ ; MSc Agricultural Water Management, Reading, UK; BSc Agric Hons (Soil Science) UZ; is the theme leader for the Integration and Modelling thematic area. He is the current Director of Research and Resource Mobilization at CUT. He spent 10 years as a research officer at the D&RSS is the former Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture and Natural Resources (MSU). His research interests are in water management and modelling and he has a strong publication track-record in these areas

Research Areas

The Invasive Species Research and Management Unit has a flexible structure and will incorporate other prominent researchers as new invasive species problems and thematic areas are taken up as areas of research, advocacy and outreach by the Unit. The basic tenet of the structuring of the Unit at any given time will be to incorporate qualified and experienced researchers who are capable of leading teams of Masters and PhD students in carrying out research that will advance scientific knowledge in invasive species ecology and management. To date the Unit has identified five research areas for which it is actively recruiting Masters and DPhil students to develop proposals and start research on water hyacinth as follows;

  • Water quality dynamics and climatic factors in lakes and rivers in Zimbabwe as drivers of water hyacinth exploding populations
  • Water hyacinth and biological control agent interactions in aquatic systems in Zimbabwe
  • Feasibility of incorporating sub-lethal dosages of herbicides in the management of water hyacinth in Zimbabwe-efficacy, ecology and integration
  • Novel ways of deriving ecological services from water hyacinth
  • Development, parameterization and validation of a decision support model for the management water hyacinth in Zimbabwe.

Publications & Notices:

Publications

  1. Invasive species threatening Zimbabwe ...download here
  2. The Jumping cholla (Cylindropuntia fulgida (Engelm.) F.M.Knuth var. fulgida ), a new invasive species of the semi-arid areas of Matebeleland in Zimbabwe ...download here

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