PhD student, Department Conservation Ecology and Entomology, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
BScAgric in Crop Protection, Stellenbosch University, South Africa-2019
Systematics and biology of pestiferous Entiminae taxa, and the application to biological pest control, specifically through the use of entomopathogenic nematodes-and-fungi.
I completed my undergraduate studies (with honours included) in BScAgric at the beautiful Stellenbosch University in the Western Cape province of South Africa, double majoring in Plant Pathology and Entomology. The combination of these two fields of study inevitably led to an interest in entomopathogenic fungi and their use in biological control, which was the focus of my honours thesis. Around this time Dr Julien Haran, a CIRAD weevil taxonomist at Montpellier University (France) was working at Stellenbosch for two years. His observations of the genus Phlyctinus Schönherr while co-supervising a Master thesis on pestiferous Entiminae at the department of Conservation Ecology and Entomology led to taxonomic investigation into the genus.
Phlyctinus callosus Schönherr, or the banded fruit weevil, was long considered a monotypic taxon, and is a key Entiminae pest on some deciduous fruit and grapevine in South Africa. It was subsequently shown to be a complex of cryptic species, with five new species named and the P. callosus s.s. concept revised in a first integrative taxonomic investigation of the complex. Of these, P. callosus is the most widespread pest on deciduous fruit and grapevine in its native range, and the newly named Phlyctinus xerophilus Haran is apparently restricted to several inland valleys of the Western Cape region of South Africa. The other four Phlyctinus species (and some undescribed ones) seem to be limited to coastal distributions and native host-plants (Asteraceae). Together with Dr Haran, Prof Pia Addison and Prof Antoinette Malan at Stellenbosch (the latter two who have been extensively involved in the biological control research and efforts against banded fruit weevil), my own project came into being, and would focus on further taxonomical investigation into Phlyctinus, and the potential impact that the closely related but similar species Phlyctinus callosus and Phlyctinus xerophilus have on the biological control (with entomopathogenic fungi-and-nematodes) of these pests. This work has since gained so much scope and co-researchers (including a passionate team of taxonomical researchers at Montpellier University) that the project has rolled into a PhD. I look forward on spending a minimum of two more years in close contact with Phlyctinus and splendid colleagues.
Haran, J.M, Hansen, S., Benoit, L. and Addison, P. 2020. Description of five new species in the genus Phlyctinus Schoenherr (Coleoptera, Curculionidae): a first step in deciphering the P. callosus complex. European Journal of Taxonomy 669: 129. doi: 10.5852/ejt.2020.669
Hansen, S., Addison, P., Benoit, L. and Haran, J.M. 2021. Barcoding pest species in a biodiversity hot-spot: the South African polyphagous broad-nosed weevils (Coleoptera, Curculionidae, Entiminae). Biodiversity Data Journal 9: e66452. doi: 10.3897/BDJ.9.e66452