School of Life Sciences

Prof Ursula Scharler

Associate Professor

Prof Ursula Scharler engages in the research fields of systems analysis and ecology of estuarine, marine and socio-economic systems. Her current research focuses on the variability, resilience, extinctions and hierarchical scales of estuarine and marine ecosystems, and how global change influences their functioning. She enjoys many collaborations on all continents and serves on editorial and advisory boards of several journals, scientific works, institutes and organisations. At UKZN, she teaches at under- and postgraduate level. 

Research interests

Her lab focusses on food web modelling, ecosystem ecology and network science, with an eye towards persistence, resilience and sustainability. Within this focus they study several themes including species-community-ecosystem hierarchies, network construction methods and the inter-connectivity of catchments, estuaries and the marine environment. They are also interested in marine canyons, nutrient stoichiometry, information embedded in systems, and global change effects on the ecology, variability and resilience of ecosystems.

The lab also engages in marine, estuarine and coastal ecology and we conduct fieldwork in estuaries, other coastal ecosystems and the nearshore marine environment. Their focus is on water quality, plankton and benthic invertebrates. They are interested in how short and long-term environmental conditions in the catchment and estuary change biotic communities, and what type of communities they may expect in future ecosystems. Data generated through fieldwork inform their models, placing them in a sound position to assess model outcomes.

Research profiles