Dr Jacqueline Bishop

Evolutionary genetics and conservation biology 
Phone: +27 (0)21 650 3631 





Research Interests

Evolutionary Genetics; Adaptive vs Neutral Genetic variation; Conservation Genetics; Molecular Evolution; Determinants of Effective Population Size 

My research interests centre on the use of molecular, behavioural and ecological data to understand the relative contributions of genetic drift and selection in shaping variation in natural populations of vertebrates. This involves a range of molecular and analytical approaches to elucidate evolutionary genetic history 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, and 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 marine fish. 


Collaborative Research Projects:

The roles of selection and drift in the evolution of variation in bat echolocation. A/Prof David Jacobs, SARCHi University of Cape Town. 

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

Climate change, habitat connectivity and pathogens in Fynbos birds. Dr Phoebe Barnard SANBI, Dale Wright Birdlife SA, A/Prof Peter Ryan Fitzpatrick Institute of African Ornithology, UCT 

Hybrid zones in chacma baboon. A/Prof Rebecca Ackermann, UCT 

Conservation genetic approaches in the management of Cape Peninsula chacma baboons. Prof Justin O’Riain, UCT  

The role of landscape evolution in the evolutionary history of Nile crocodiles. Dr Woody Cotterill Africa Earth Observatory Network (AEON), Dr Alison Leslie University of Stellenosch & Dr Evon Hekkala Fordham University New York 


Courses Lectured:

BIO1000 Cell Biology; BIO2010 Principles of Ecology & Evolution; BIO3010 Systematics and Macro Evolution; BIO3014 Conservation: Genes, Populations & Biodiversity (course convener); MCB3023 Molecular Evolutionary Genetics & Development; ZOO5003 MSc in Conservation Biology 


Recent publications

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. 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 Postgraduate Students

Gareth Tate (PhD) Plumage polymorphism and fitness in a founder population of Black Sparrowhawks Accipiter melanoleucus. (

Campbell Fleming (MSc) Genetic connectivity in fynbos endemic birds.

Gabriella Leighton (MSc) Spatial analysis of risk to carnivores of Table Mountain National Park. (

Storme Viljoen (MSc) The health status and epidemiology of caracal and jackal in the Karoo, South Africa. (

Vincent Naude (MSc) Forensic assessment of the legal and illegal trade in leopard skins in South Africa.

Edmunds Rodseth (MSc) The genetic architecture of colour in the Black Sparrowhawk Accipiter melanoleucus.


Graduated Students

Lourie Badenhorst, MSc 2008. The characterisation of MHC class II genes of the Nile crocodile Crocodylus niloticus: investigating mechanisms that shape genetic diversity in natural populations.

Natalie Coutts, PhD 2009. Investigating genetic diversity at neutral and adaptive DNA markers in the severely bottlenecked southern white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum simum

Alexander Menayas, MSc 2009. Do requiem and hammerhead sharks off the coast of South Africa exhibit multiple paternity? A study using cross-species microsatellites. 

Riashna Sithaldeen, PhD 2011. The phylogenetic and phylogeographic history of the chacma baboon Papio ursinus in southern Africa: the role of landscape in shaping contemporary genetic structure.

Sofia Stathopoulos, PhD 2012. The role of selection in the evolution of olfactory receptors in the African mole-rats (Family Bathyergidae).

Eric Katz, MSc 2012. Population demographics and population genetics of the Cape dwarf chameleon, Bradypodion pumilim.

Stephen Doucette-Riise, MSc 2012. Landscape genetics and habitat use of the highly endangered Western Leopard Toad, Amietophrynus pantherinus, in a rural setting.

Jenneca McCarter, MSc 2012. MHC variation and pathogen history in Cape Peninsula chacma baboons.

Daniel Wright, MSc 2012. Genetic variation, genetic connectivity and the distribution of Marine Protected Areas in South Africa.

Lisa Nupen PhD 2014. A conservation genetic study of threatened, endemic southern African seabirds.

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.

Lizelle Odendaal PhD 2015. The evolution of echolocation variation in the Cape horseshoe bat Rhinolophus capensis.

Liezl le Roux MSc 2015. Immune gene variation and individual pathogen loads in black sparrowhawks.