Dr Falko Buschke
Senior Lecturer
Centre for Environmental Management
051 401 9596
Agriculture Building: Block 10 111

Short CV

2014: Doctor in Science (Biology) - University of Leuven, Belgium

2010: Magister of Environmental Management - University of the Free State, South Africa

2008: Baccalaureus Scientiae Honores (Entomology) - University of the Free State, South Africa

2007: Baccalaureus Scientiae (Zoology) - University of the Free State, South Africa


Publications (Short List)

Since 2013 (for a full list, please see my Google Scholar Profile

  • Buschke, F.T., Brendonck, L. & Vanschoenwinkel, B. (2015) Simple mechanistic models can partially explain local but not range-wide co-occurrence of African mammals. Global Ecology and Biogeography doi: 10.1111/geb.12316
  • Buschke, F.T., De Meester, L., Brendonck, L. & Vanschoenwinkel, B. (2015) Partitioning the variation in African vertebrate distributions into environmental and spatial components - exploring the link between ecology and biogeography. Ecography, 38, 450-461.
  • Buschke, F.T. (2015) The startup culture of conservation entrepreneurship. Conservation Biology, 29, 300-302.
  • Buschke, F.T., Brendonck, L. &  Vanschoenwinkel, B. (2014) Differences between regional and biogeographic species pools highlight the need for multi-scale theories in macroecology. Frontiers of Biogeography, 6, 173-184.
  • Buschke, F.T. & Vanschoenwinkel, B. (2014) Mechanisms for the inclusion of cumulative impacts on conservation decision-making are sensitive to vulnerability and irreplaceability in a stochastically simulated landscape. Journal of Nature Conservation, 22, 265-271.
  • Buschke, F.T. & Seaman, M.T. (2014) Golden Gate Highlands National Park: Killing the goose laying golden eggs? Comment on Taru et al. (2013) South African Journal of Science, 110, #a0075 doi: 10.1590/sajs.2014/a0075
  • Vanschoenwinkel, B., Buschke, F. & Brendonck, L. (2013) Disturbance regime alters the impact of dispersal on alpha and beta diversity in a natural metacommunity. Ecology, 94, 2547-2557.
  • Buschke, F.T., Esterhuyse, S., Kemp, M.E., Seaman, M.T., Brendonck, L. &  Vanschoenwinkel, B. (2013) The dynamics of mountain rock pools - Are aquatic and terrestrial habitats alternative stable states? Acta Oecologica, 47, 24-29.



My research has a strong quantitative component, so I welcome prospective students with a particular interest in developing and applying mathematical solutions to ecological problems. My personal philosophy is that research should be question-driven as opposed to species- or ecosystem-driven. This partly explains why my previous research involved both invertebrates and vertebrates in aquatic and terrestrial systems.

I also believe that science should be  as open and collaborative as possible to reduce competition and maximise complementarity between different research groups. In addition to my colleagues at the centre for Environmental Management, I actively collaborate on projects with Bram Vanschoenwinkel (Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium) and Luc Brendonck (University of Leuven, Belgium).


Area(s) of Interest

The effective management and conservation of species requires an understanding of the mechanics behind biodiversity patterns. My research, therefore, aims to identify the processes underlying geographic patterns of biodiversity and determine how this influences the way me make environmental decisions. I encourage any prospective students or collaborators to contact me if they share some of the following interests:

  • Environment-driven causes of biodiversity

In light of forecasted climate change, it is essential that we have a thorough understanding of how contemporary patterns of biodiversity are shaped by climate. I explored diversity-climate relationships for vertebrates in sub-Saharan Africa using combinations of GIS-based species distribution data and custom-built analytical tools. This includes research on the distribution ranges of individual species as well as the co-occurrence of multiple species.

  • The structure and mechanics of biogeographical regions

Uniform biogeographical regions are the fundamental units for much ecological, evolutionary, and conservation research. I have previously explored the scale-dependency of such biogeographical units and am currently working on a project to determine whether the formation of these units can be attributed to an evolutionary trade-off between ecological specialisation and dispersal.

  • The relationship between ecological disturbance and diversity

Understanding how diversity is influenced by ecological disturbance helps us determine the potential impacts of anthropogenic activities. This is illustrated by an earlier study on the effects of a large-scale opencast iron mining operation in the Northern Cape Province, South Africa, on the diversity of temporary wetlands. My collaborators an I also previously demonstrated that the impact of natural disturbance on diversity is highly dependent on immigration. This will guide my upcoming research on whether the structure of a human-modified agricultural landscape influences the persistence of species in ecological refugia.

  • How the outcomes of environmental-decisions depend on the geographic patterns of biodiversity

The outcomes of the environmental decision-making process does not just depend on the way we make those decisions, but also on the way that biodiversity is spread across a landscape. I intend to expand this section of my research in upcoming years and I hope to incorporate aspects of objective, evidence-based decision-making in other parts of my research.

  • Using entrepreneurship for nature conservation

I believe that many modern conservation problems are amenable to local, self-started solutions. Furthermore, recent advances in entrepreneurial tools have created novel opportunities for budding conservationists. I, therefore, try to promote a startup culture of conservation entrepreneurship.


Courses Presented

I present parts of the following modules with other lecturers 

Masters in Environmental Management 

MOB 707: Resources and processes

MOB 743: Biodiversity and Conservation management

MOB 791: Extended mini-dissertation  


Honours in Limnology

LIMH 6814: Scientific methodology

LIMH 6834: Introduction to monitoring of aquatic systems

LIMH 6856: Research literature study 

Honours in Zoology and Entomology 

ZLGY 6842 & ENTO 6842: The Environment


Community Service

I initiated and am currently involved in efforts to promote pro-conservation behaviour amongst commercial farmers in the Rooiberge-Riemland Important Bird Area in the eastern Free State Province, South Africa. This work is in collaboration with BirdLife South Africa.


Elfrieda van den Berg (Marketing Manager)
T: +27 51 401 2531


Dilahlwane Mohono (Faculty Officer)
T: +27 58 718 5284

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