Dr Jemma Finch




Jemma Finch





BSc Hons (Natal), MSc (KwaZulu-Natal)

PhD (York)



Office Block:

Science Block

Geography/Environmental Sciences





+27 (0) 33 260 6374






Biographical Statement


My research is focussed on vegetation dynamics and ecosystem change, particularly on forest and grassland ecosystems on African mountains. I use palaeoecological techniques, such as fossil pollen and charcoal analysis, together with biogeographical and ecological data, to assess the role of climate change and human activity in shaping vegetation distribution patterns.

I conducted my undergraduate and MSc training at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, focussed on biogeography and GIS. During my PhD research, based at the York Institute for Tropical Ecosystem Dynamics at the University of York (UK), I investigated past vegetation dynamics in the biodiverse Eastern Arc Mountain archipelago of Tanzania. My postdoctoral research at the University of Cape Town looked at the palaeoecological history of the Drakensberg Mountains.

I am currently based at the University of KwaZulu-Natal where I am continuing these research themes into the future. Focal areas include the Maputaland Coastal Plain (in collaboration with Marc Humphries at Wits), Drakensberg, Soutpansberg and Mapungubwe. In Maputaland, our primary aim is to reconstruct a high resolution continuous record for glacial and Holocene conditions using a c. 50,000 year record from the Mfabeni Peatland on the eastern shores of Lake St. Lucia. Sediment characterization and preliminary chronological control have been established, with proxy analyses in progress.


Teaching Duties


ENVS210 – Biophysical Environments of Southern Africa
ENVS314 – Biogeography and Climatic Change
ENVS319 – Global Environmental Change

Click here  to view a list of Dr Jemma Finch's Postgraduate Students


Research Interests

  • Palaeoecology of African ecosystems, particularly the Afromontane region
  • Predictive distribution modelling and GIS
  • Biodiversity distribution patterns
  • Conservation implications of climate change
  • Past human impacts on the landscape
  • Application of biological proxies to measure environmental change

Click here to view Dr Jemma Finch's research page 

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