Photo: Caroli Diener

© 2016 biological interactions

Former Member

Department of Botany and Zoology


biological interactions

Dr Caroli de Waal

I am broadly interested in plant evolutionary biology and evolutionary ecology, with a specific interest in the evolution and ecology of dispersal, pollination biology and plant mating systems. I obtained my B.Sc. Hons. (Botany) in 2007 at the University of the Free State, South Africa. I completed my M.Sc. (Evolutionary Biology) in 2010 at the University of Toronto, Canada. In 2015, I received my Ph.D from the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa.


For my master’s degree, I studied the reproductive ecology of bird-pollinated Babiana (Iridaceae), including aspects of their floral variation, mating patterns and genetic diversity. This research is currently ongoing through the work of Master’s student Genevieve Theron. During my doctoral research I focused on dispersal, dormancy, life history and breeding systems of African Asteraceae and how these could function as risk-reducing strategies in unpredictable environments. I specifically investigated the association between dispersal and breeding system traits and range edge proximity, using Namaqualand daisies as study system. I also explored the effects of con- and heterospecific density and spatial distribution pattern on pollination and fecundity in annual daisies. I examined relative investment in dispersal vs. dormancy in seed heteromorphic Dimorphotheca (Asteraceae) species in relation to life history, rainfall unpredictability and range edge proximity. Finally, I explored negative patterns of covariation among dispersal and dormancy as alternative risk-reducing strategies across 27 wind-dispersed annual and perennial daisy species from South Africa, using phylogenetically controlled approaches.


De Waal, C., Anderson, B. & Barrett, S.C.H. (2012). The natural history of pollination and mating in bird-pollinated Babiana (Iridaceae). Annals of Botany 109: 667–679. doi:10.1093/aob/mcr172

De Waal, C., Barrett, S.C.H. & Anderson, B. (2012). The effect of mammalian herbivory on inflorescence architecture in ornithophilous Babiana (Iridaceae): Implications for the evolution of a bird perch. American Journal of Botany 99: 1096–1103. doi:10.3732/ajb.1100295

De Waal, C., Rodger, J.G., Anderson, B. & Ellis, A.G. (2014) Selfing ability and dispersal are positively related, but not affected by range position: a multispecies study on southern African Asteraceae. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 27: 950-959. doi: 10.1111/jeb.12368

De Waal, C., Anderson, B. & Ellis, A.G. (2015). Relative density and dispersion pattern of two southern African Asteraceae affect fecundity through heterospecific interference and mate availability, not pollinator visitation rate. Journal of Ecology 103: 513–525. doi: 10.1111/1365-2745.12358

De Waal, C., Anderson, B. & Ellis, A.G. (2016) Dispersal, dormancy and life history trade-offs at the individual-, population- and species-level in southern African Asteraceae. New Phytologist 210: 356–365 doi: 10.1111/nph.13744