Photo: Anina Coetzee

© 2016 biological interactions

Former Member

Department of Botany and Zoology


biological interactions

Dr Anina Coetzee

While studying at Stellenbosch University I got to know the amazingly diverse fynbos plants and fascinating ecosystem. I like to combine my interests in bird and plants in the field of bird pollination. I started my MSc degree at Stellenbosch University and after upgrading it I completed my PhD thesis at the end of 2015 under the guidance of Prof Anton Pauw and Dr Phoebe Barnard (SANBI). My project investigated nectar resource distributions and the foraging behaviour of nectarivorous birds at different spatial scales. I took different approaches to explore this, including field experiments, community assembly modelling, GIS analyses and questionnaires.


My specific interests lie in ecological and evolutionary interactions of avian mutualistic relationships. My PhD project studied the interaction between nectarivorous birds and their mutualistic plants. I investigated sunbird foraging behaviour in aviary experiments and tested its effect on flower colour polymorphisms. I developed null models to unravel the community assembly processes of Proteaceae. With the use of GIS approaches, I determined the landscape level natural nectar resource availability for birds. Through means of questionnaires I established what the availability and degree of exploitation is of suburban nectar resources.

Current Research

Heystek, Anina & Pauw, Anton. 2014. Does competition for pollinators contribute to structuring Erica communities? Journal of Vegetation Science 25: 648-656.

Heystek, Anina, Geerts, Sjirk, Barnard, Phoebe & Pauw, Anton 2014. Pink flower preference in sunbirds does not translate into plant fitness differences in a polymorphic Erica species. Evolutionary Ecology 28: 457-470.