Professor and Head of Department
NP Barker, MSc(Wits), PhD(UCT)
Professor of Botany
CEJ Botha, PhD(Natal)
BS Ripley, MSc(Natal), PhD(Rhodes)
S Vetter, PhD(UCT)
CI Peter, MSc(Rhodes), PhD(UKZN)
Associate Professor Emeritus RA Lubke, BSc(Hons)(Rhodes), MIBiol, MSc (Science Education)(Keele), PhD(Western Ontario)
RJ McKenzie, PhD(University of Canterbury, NZ)
S Kaehler, PhD (University of Hong Kong)
AP Dold, MSc(Rhodes)
Botany (BOT) is a six-semester subject which may be taken as a major subject for the degrees of BSc and BJourn. Botany is a recommended co-major with Environmental Science (ENV), Entomology (ENT) or Zoology (ZOO) full details of which are given in a separate entry.
To major in Botany, a candidate is required to obtain credit in the following courses: CHE 1; CEL 101, BOT 102, ZOO 101, BOT 201; BOT 202; BOT 301; BOT 302. See Rule S.23.
Two, or in some cases four, Botany semester-credit courses are allowed as credits for other degree/diploma curricula in the Faculties of Humanities and Education.
See the Departmental Web Page http://www.ru.ac.za/botany/ for further details, particularly on the contents of courses.
There are two first-year courses in Botany. CEL 101 is normally held in the first semester and BOT 102 in the second semester. Credit may be obtained in each course separately and, in addition, an aggregate mark of at least 50% will be deemed to be equivalent to a two-credit course BOT 1, provided that a candidate obtains the required sub-minimum (45%) in each component. However, students wishing to major in Botany must normally obtain credit in both components separately. Both theory and practical examinations are held. Supplementary examinations may be awarded in either course, provided that a candidate achieves 35% in semester 1 and 45% in semester 2. Practical reports, essays and class tests collectively comprise the class mark, which forms part of the final mark.
Adequate performance (in the form of at least a DP) for CEL 101 is required before a student may register for BOT 102.
Each course is comprised of modules of two to four weeks, with 5 lectures and 1 practical per week. Additional tutorial sessions may be given in some modules.
CEL 101: Cell Biology
This course compares cell structure in prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells and examines cellular processes including cell to cell communication, photosynthesis and cell respiration. Cell division and fundamental genetics, including the structure of genetic material and how it controls cellular processes, are also covered.
BOT 102: Plant Evolution and Ecology
This course examines the mechanisms of evolution through natural selection and the resultant plant diversity. Whole plant function and adaptation are then used to introduce plant ecology, which deals with the characteristics and processes found at different levels of organisation from the individual to ecosystems. The course ends with an introduction to the biomes of South Africa, highlighting the diversity in ecological processes that have shaped the vegetation in different parts of the country. A compulsory field trip to the coast provides an introduction to field ecology.
There are two independent second-year courses in Botany. BOT 201 is normally held in the first semester and BOT 202 in the second semester. Credit may be obtained in each course separately, and, in addition, an aggregate mark of at least 50% will be deemed to be equivalent to a two-credit course BOT 2, provided that a candidate obtains the required subminimum in each semester. No supplementary examinations will be offered for either course.
When the intention is to major in Botany, credit in Botany (CEL 101, BOT 102), Zoology (ZOO 102) and Chemistry (CHE 1) is required before a student may register for BOT 201 or BOT 202. Permission may be granted to repeat CHE 1 or ZOO 101 concurrently with BOT 201 and BOT 202. Adequate performance (at least 40%) in the first semester is required before a student may register for the second semester.
These courses each comprise several modules and weekly practicals. Students registered for BOT 201 will also be required to assemble a plant collection, and students will participate in field trips in BOT 201 or BOT 202.
BOT 201: Biodiversity and Conservation
This course has the assessment, conservation and rehabilitation of botanical diversity as its central theme. A module on population and conservation biology lays the foundation for assessing biodiversity and the conservation status of species. Other modules deal with the biology, impacts and control of biological invasions, the impacts and management of plant utilisation, and the assessment and rehabilitation of disturbed landscapes. A course on plant collecting and identification is included as many of the practicals consist of field excursions.
BOT 202: Plant Function
This course starts with a module on research methods, which provides hands-on training in skills required for planning and conducting experiments and analysing data. A module on plant development focuses on the relationship between form and function in the differentiation, growth and maturation of plant tissues. A module on plant reproduction introduces some of the many modes of reproduction in Angiosperms before focussing on the interaction between plants and their pollinators. A module on carbon and nitrogen metabolism in plants examines pathways of energy production and utilisation, and the regulation of metabolism.
There are two independent third-year courses in Botany. BOT 301 is normally held in the first semester and BOT 302 in the second semester. Credit may be obtained in each course separately, and, in addition, an aggregate mark of at least 50% will be deemed to be equivalent to a two-credit course BOT 3, provided that a candidate obtains the required subminimum in each semester. No supplementary examinations will be offered for either course.
Credit in Botany (BOT 201 or BOT 202) is required before a student may register for BOT 3. Credit in BOT 3 will only be granted when full credit in BOT 2 has been obtained.
These courses each comprise several modules and weekly practicals. Students are also required to undertake a mini research project.
BOT 301: Biodiversity
Botany 301 examines important aspects of biodiversity. The first module considers the science of modern systematics, including nomenclature, taxonomic data and analysis, especially phenetics and cladistics. A second module looks at terrestrial biogeography, exploring the relationship between present-day distribution patterns of biota, their past evolutionary history and the geological history of the earth. A final module on evolutionary biology examines evolutionary theory concentrating on the mechanisms that have driven the speciation of organisms to produce present day biodiversity.
BOT 302: Plant and Ecosystem Function
Botany 302 offers three advanced modules on plant function in relation to the environment. A module on evolutionary plant anatomy examines in detail some of the structures that make the transport systems of vascular plants efficient. An ecophysiology module examines the relationship between plant physiology and the environment where these plants grow, looking in particular at the physiological consequences of stress. The course explores plant response to extremes using the specific examples of light, water and temperature stress. An ecology module looks at plant life histories and mechanisms of competition and coexistence in plant communities.
The Honours degree course allows for specialisation in a chosen direction within Botany. It involves seminars, tutorials and research projects, and is intended to provide the student with the opportunity for in-depth study in particular aspects of the subject. These may be seen as a relevant training for subsequent employment or as a step between an undergraduate degree and a research degree. Modules include: ecology, pollination biology, plant-insect feeding interactions, molecular ecology, advanced systematics, ecophysiology, climate change, advanced anatomy, and disturbance and restoration ecology.
Joint Honours courses may be followed where topics from the Botany Honours course may be taken in combination with courses in some other Departments (for example, Entomology, Environmental Science, Ichthyology or Zoology).
Honours in Biodiversity and Conservation
The departments of Botany and Environmental Science also offer a specialist honours course in Biodiversity and Conservation that includes three compulsory and one optional module, a project, seminars and tutorials. The topics of compulsory modules include geographical information systems, community-based natural resource management and diversity, rarity and endemism. The course is designed as training for a career in biodiversity conservation or as a step towards further postgraduate study.
Full details of the curriculum may be found at the web page http://www.ru.ac.za/botany/
Suitably qualified students are encouraged to proceed to the research degrees of MSc and PhD under the direction of the staff of the Department or associated Institutes. Requirements for the MSc and PhD degrees are given in the General Rules.