Evolutionary genetics and conservation biology 
Phone: +27 (0)21 650 3631 
Email: jacqueline.bishop@uct.ac.za




Research Interests

Conservation Genetics; Animal ecology; Adaptive vs Neutral Genetic variation; Mating systems; Wildlife health

My research interests center on the use of molecular, behavioural and ecological data to understand (i)the relative contributions of genetic drift and selection in shaping variation in natural populations of vertebrates, (ii) the impacts of anthropogenic land-use change on natural populations, and (iii) the health implications of these changes for wildlife. This involves a range of molecular and ecological approaches to elucidate evolutionary genetic histories from the level of individuals and parentage assignment to the analysis of genes, populations and species. I have an ongoing interest in the evolutionary drivers of mate choice behaviour, together with understanding the relative importance of adaptive genetic variation in free-living populations. Working within this framework I use a number of taxa as models to test current theories. These have included crocodiles, rhinoceros, baboons and mole-rats, and more recently seabirds, bats and caracal.

Collaborative Research Projects

The Urban Caracal Project. Dr Laurel Serieys, Panthera; Prof. Justin O’Riain, Institute for Communities and Wildlife in Africa, UCT. See www.urbancaracal.org and https://www.facebook.com/urbancaracal

Seabird conservation genetics. Prof. Peter Ryan, Fitzpatrick Institute of African Ornithology, UCT

Climate change, habitat connectivity and pathogens in Fynbos birds. Prof. Peter Ryan, Dr Susan Miller & Dr Alan Lee, Fitzpatrick Institute of African Ornithology, UCT; Dr Phoebe Barnard, Conservation Biology Institute

Courses Lectured

BIO1000 Cell Biology; BIO2014 Principles of Ecology & Evolution; BIO3010 Systematics and Macro Evolution; BIO3014 Conservation: Genes, Populations & Biodiversity; MCB3023 Molecular Evolutionary Genetics & Development; ZOO5003 MSc in Conservation Biology

Recent publications

LEK Serieys, JM Bishop, MS Rogan, JA Smith, JP Suraci, MJ O’Riain, CC Wilmers (2023) Anthropogenic activities and age class mediate carnivore habitat selection in a human-dominated landscape. iScience. Vol 26 (7) 107050. doi.org/10.1016/j.isci.2023.107050

SM Miller, A Kotze, CK Harper, JM Bishop, VL Williams, M de Bruyn, DL Dalton, SAJ Selier (2023) Genetic diversity and origin of captive lion (Panthera leo) in South Africa: an assessment and comparison to wild populations. Conservation Genetics. doi.org/10.1007/s10592-023-01530-5

KH Parker, JM Bishop, LEKS Serieys, R Mateo, PR Camarero, GRM Leighton (2023) A heavy burden: Metal exposure across the land-ocean continuum in an adaptable carnivore. Environmental Pollution, 327.121585. doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2023.121585

KEM von Dürckheim, LC Hoffman, C Poblete-Echeverría, JM Bishop, TE Goodwin, BA Schulte, A Leslie (2022) A pachyderm perfume: odour encodes identity and group membership in African elephants. Scientific Reports. 12 (1), 1-12. doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-20920-2

LK Smyth, GA Balme, R Tyzack-Pitman, JM Bishop, MJ O’Riain (2022) Like mother like daughter: quantifying the relationship between relatedness and phenotypic similarity in leopard pelage patterns. Mammalian Biology, 1-16. doi.org/10.1007/s42991-022-00308-5

GRM Leighton, JM Bishop, PR Camarero, R Mateo, MJ O'Riain, LEK Serieys (2022) Poisoned chalice: use of transformed landscapes associated with increased persistent organic pollutant concentrations and potential immune effects for an adaptable carnivore. Science of The Total Environment, 153581. doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.153581

LP Brodie, K Grey, JM Bishop, GF Midgley (2021) Broadening predictive understanding of species’ range responses to climate change: the case of Aloidendron dichotomum. Frontiers in Ecology & Evolution. Vol 9, article 715702. https://doi.org/10.3389/fevo.2021.715702

S Kraberger, LEK Serieys, C Richet, NM Fountain-Jones, G Baele, JM Bishop, M Nehring, JS Ivan, ES Newkirk, JR Squires, MC Lund, SPD Riley, CC Wilmers, PD van Helden, K van Doorslaer, M Culver, S VandeWoude, DP Martin, A Varsani (2021) Complex evolutionary history of felid anelloviruses. Virology. 562, 176-189. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.virol.2021.07.013

GRM Leighton, JM Bishop, J Merondun, DJ Winterton, MJ O’Riain, LEK Serieys (2021) Hiding in plain sight: risk mitigation by a cryptic carnivore foraging at the urban edge. Animal Conservation. Early view. https://doi.org/10.1111/acv.12732

KJ Stratford, AS Guerier, SJ Crawford, SMC Stratford, A Schmidt-Kuntzel, JM Bishop (2021) Female southern white rhinoceros can select mates to avoid inbreeding. J Heredity. 112:4, 385–390. https://doi.org/10.1093/jhered/esab028

S Viljoen, MJ O’Riain, M Drouilly, I Vorster, JM Bishop (2021) Black-backed jackals (Canis mesomelas) from semi-arid rangelands in South Africa harbour Hepatozoon canis and a Theileria species but apparently not Babesia rossi. Veterinary Parasitology: Regional Studies and Reports. Vol. 24, 100559. doi.org/10.1016/j.vprsr.2021.100559

VN Naude GA Balme, MT Rogan, MD Needham, G Whittington-Jones, T Dickerson, X Mabaso, N Nattrass, JM Bishop, LTB Hunter, MJ O’Riain (2020) Longitudinal assessment of illegal leopard skin use in ceremonial regalia and acceptance of faux alternatives amongst followers of the Shembe Church, South Africa. Conservation Science and Practice. 2(11): e289. doi:10.1111/csp2.289

VN Naude, GA Balme, J O'Riain, LTB Hunter, J Fattebert, T Dickerson, JM Bishop (2020) Unsustainable anthropogenic mortality disrupts natal dispersal and promotes inbreeding in leopards. Ecology and Evolution. 10(8), 3605-3619. doi.org/10.1002/ece3.6089

GRM Leighton, JM Bishop, MJ O’Riain, J Broadfield, J Meröndun, G Avery, Margaret Avery, LEK Serieys (2020) An integrated dietary assessment increases feeding event detection in an urban carnivore. Urban Ecosystems. 1-15. doi.org/10.1007/s11252-020-00946-y

S Viljoen, MJ O’Riain, BL Penzhorn, M Drouilly, LEK Serieys, B Cristescu, KJ Teichman, JM Bishop (2020) Molecular detection of tick-borne pathogens in caracals (Caracal caracal) living in human-modified landscapes of South Africa. Parasites & Vectors. 13, 1-16. doi.org/10.1186/s13071-020-04075-5

LEK Serieys, K Hammond-Aryee, JM Bishop, J Broadfield, MJ O'Riain, PD van Helden (2019) High Seroprevalence of Toxoplasma gondii in an Urban Caracal (Caracal caracal) Population in South Africa Journal of Wildlife Diseases. 55 (4), 951-953. doi.org/10.7589/2018-09-229.

LEK Serieys, JM Bishop, N Okes, J Broadfield, DJ Winterton, RH Poppenga, S Viljoen, RK Wayne, MJ O'Riain (2019) Widespread anticoagulant poison exposure in predators in a rapidly growing South African city. Science of the Total Environment. 666, 581-590. doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.02.122

B Jansen van Vuuren, J Visser, JM Bishop, D Dalton, T Masehela, S von der Heyden, A Kotze, K Labuschagne, M Mwale, J Selier, E Suleman, KA Tolley (2019) ‘Chapter 2: Risks and impacts to genetic diversity, pressure and benefits’, in National Biodiversity Assessment 2018 Technical Report Volume 7: Genetic Diversity. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria. http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12143/6376

J da Silva, JM Bishop, M du Plessis, S von der Heyden (2019) ‘Chapter 3: Monitoring trends in genetic diversity for priority taxa in South Africa’, National Biodiversity Assessment 2018 Technical Report Volume 7: Genetic Diversity. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria. http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12143/6376

DM Stevens, JM Bishop, MD Picker. Phylogenetic analysis reveals high local endemism and clear biogeographic breaks in southern African stoneflies (Notonemouridae, Plecoptera). (2018) Zootaxa. 4483 (3), 428. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.4483.3.2.

SK Meier, N Adams, M Wolf, K Balkwill, AM Muasya, CA Gehring, JM Bishop, RA Ingle (2018) Comparative RNA-seq analysis of nickel hyperaccumulating and non-accumulating populations of Senecio coronatus (Asteraceae). The Plant Journal. 95 (6), 1023-1038. doi:10.1111/tpj.14008

G Tate, JM Bishop, A Amar (2016) Differential foraging success across a light level spectrum explains the maintenance and spatial structure of colour morphs in a polymorphic bird. Ecology Letters. 19:679-686. doi:10.1111/ele.12606

N Nesi, DS Jacobs, K Feldheim, JM Bishop (2015) Development and characterization of 10 microsatellite markers in the Cape horseshoe bat, Rhinolophus capensis (Chiroptera, Rhinolophidae) and cross-amplification in southern African Rhinolophus species. BMC Research Notes, 8:477. doi:10.1186/s13104-015-1465-5.

D Wright, JM Bishop, CA Matthee, S von der Heyden (2015). Genetic isolation by distance reveals restricted dispersal across a range of life-histories: implications for biodiversity conservation planning across highly variable marine environments. Diversity & Distributions. 21(6):698-710.

R Sithaldeen, RR Ackermann, JM Bishop (2015). Pleistocene aridification cycles shaped the contemporary genetic architecture of southern African baboons. PLoSONE. 10(5) :e0123207.

S Stathopoulos, JM Bishop, C O’Ryan (2014) Genetic signatures for enhanced olfaction in the African mole-rats. PLoSONE. 9(4): e93336.

FPD Cotterill, PJ Taylor, S Gippoliti, JM Bishop, CP Groves (2014) Why one century of phenetics is enough. Systematic Biology. doi:10.1093/sysbio/syu003.

LJ Odendaal, DS Jacobs, JM Bishop (2014) Sensory trait variation in an echolocating bat suggests roles for both selection and plasticity. BMC Evolutionary Biology. 14:60. doi:10.1186/1471-2148-14-60.

EM Katz, KS Tolley, JM Bishop (2014) Temporal changes in allelic variation among Cape Dwarf Chameleons inhabiting a transformed, semi-urban wetland. African Journal of Herpetology. 63, 1-12.

DS Jacobs, H Babiker, A Bastian, T Kearney, R van Eeden, JM Bishop (2013) Phenotypic convergence in genetically distinct lineages in a species complex of Rhinolophus bats. PLoSONE. 8(12): e82614.

A Guerier, JM Bishop, SM Crawford, A Schmidt-Kuntzel & KS Stratford (2012) Parentage analysis in a free-ranging population of southern white rhinoceros: genetic diversity, pedigrees, and management. Conservation Genetics. 13, 811-822.

RR Ackermann & JM Bishop (2010) Morphological and molecular evidence reveals recent hybridization between gorilla taxa. Evolution. 64, 271-290.

R Sithaldeen, JM Bishop & RR Ackermann (2009) Mitochondrial DNA analysis reveals Plio-Pleistocene diversification within the chacma baboon. Molecular Phylogenetics & Evolution. 53, 1042–1048.

JM Bishop, AJ Leslie, A Bourquin, C O’Ryan. (2009) Reduced effective population size in an overexploited population of the Nile crocodile, Crocodylus niloticus. Biological Conservation. 142, 2335-2341.

JM Bishop, C O’Ryan, JUM Jarvis (2007) Social common mole-rats enhance outbreeding by extra-pair mating. Royal Society Biology Letters. 3, 176–179.

TM Burland, JM Bishop, C O’Ryan, CG Faulkes (2005) Microsatellite primers for the African mole-rat genus Cryptomys and cross-species amplification within the family Bathyergidae. Molecular Ecology Resources. 1, 311-314.

JM Bishop, C O’Ryan, AC Spinks, NC Bennett, JUM Jarvis (2004) Molecular insight into patterns of colony composition and paternity in the common mole-rat Cryptomys hottentotus. Molecular Ecology. 13, 1217-1229.

Current Postdoctoral Fellows & Postgraduate Students

Dr Susan Miller - Genetic connectivity and predictors of avian malaria in Fynbos endemic bird species

Dr Laurel Serieys - Spatial ecology, health, and genetic structure of Cape Town’s caracal population

Gabriella Leighton (PhD) Dietary analysis of urban associated caracal using traditional and new methods to assess exposure risk to environmental toxicants. Supervisors: JM Bishop, LEK Serieys, MJ O’Riain

Campbell Fleming (MSc) Genetic connectivity in Fynbos endemic birds. Supervisors: JM Bishop, P Ryan

Tom Thacker (MSc) Defining conservation units in southern Africa’s leopards. Supervisor: JM Bishop

Graduated Students


Vincent Naude PhD (2020) Forensic assessment of illegal trade in leopard skins in southern Africa. Supervisors: JM Bishop, G Balme, MJ O’Riain

Gareth Tate PhD (2016) Plumage polymorphisms and fitness in a founder population of black sparrowhawks. Supervisors: A Amar, JM Bishop

Lizelle Odendaal PhD (2015) The evolution of echolocation variation in the Cape horseshoe bat Rhinolophus capensis. Supervisors: DS Jacobs, JM Bishop

Lisa Nupen PhD (2014) A conservation genetic study of threatened endemic southern African seabirds. Supervisors: JM Bishop, PJ Ryan

Sofia Stathopoulos PhD (2012) The role of selection in the evolution of olfactory receptors in the African mole-rats (Bathyergidae). Supervisors: C O’Ryan, JM Bishop

Riashna Sithaldeen PhD (2011) The phylogenetic and phylogeographic history of the chacma baboon Papio ursinus in southern Africa. Supervisors: RR Ackermann, JM Bishop

Duncan Stevens PhD (2009) Systematics of the Notonemouridae (Plecoptera) of Southern Africa. Supervisors: M Picker, JM Bishop

Natalie Coutts PhD (2009) Investigating genetic diversity at neutral and adaptive DNA markers in the severely bottlenecked southern white rhinoceros Ceratotherium simum simum. Supervisors: C O’Ryan, JM Bishop


Storme Viljoen MSc (2017) Health status and epidemiology of caracal and jackal in the Karoo, South Africa. Supervisors: JM Bishop, MJ O’Riain

Alicia Ly MSc (2017) Tick-borne pathogens and adaptive genetic variation in urban caracals. Supervisor: JM Bishop

Liezl le Roux MSc (2015) Immune gene variation and individual pathogen loads in black sparrowhawks. Supervisors: JM Bishop

Michael Wolf MSc (2014) Characterization of the instraspecific variation within nickel (Ni) hyperaccumulator species Senecio coronatus (Asteraceae): A preliminary analysis of genetic population structure and shoot proteome expression. Supervisors: R Ingle, JM Bishop, M Muasya

Eric Katz MSc (2012) Population demographics and population genetics of the Cape dwarf chameleon, Bradypodion pumilum. Supervisors: KS Tolley (SANBI), JM Bishop

Stephen Doucette-Riise MSc (2012) Landscape genetics and habitat use of the highly endangered Western Leopard Toad in a rural setting. Supervisors: J Measey (Stellenbosch University), JM Bishop

Jenneca McCarter MSc (2012) MHC variation and pathogen history in Cape Peninsula chacma baboons. Supervisor: JM Bishop

Daniel Wright MSc (2012) Genetic variation, genetic connectivity and the distribution of Marine Protected Areas in South Africa. Supervisors: JM Bishop, S von der Heyden (Stellenbosch University)

Alexander Menayas MSc (2009) Do requiem and hammerhead sharks off the coast of South Africa exhibit multiple paternity? A study using cross-species microsatellites. Supervisors: JM Bishop, C O’Ryan