Taxonomy, diversity and biogeography of South African marine fishes and annelids


My main research experience is in the ecology and systematics of segmented marine worms or polychaetes. I made the “switch” to fish while employed at Marine and Coastal Management (now Branch: Fisheries in the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries) as a scientist responsible for research on the large pelagic fisheries (e.g. Tuna and Swordfish), which informed decision-making on commercial and recreational quotas.

My polychaete research was in part based at the Natural History Museum (NHM), London, under the supervision of Dr Gordon Paterson (the current Deputy-Keeper of Zoology, NHM) and Prof Mark Gibbons (University of the Western Cape). The research focussed on collaborative work done with De Beer’s Marine (Ltd) Pty to elucidate the relationship between sediment composition and polychaete communities along the southern coast of Namibia in order to establish whether one group of organisms (polychaetes) could be used as a proxy for the entire fauna at different taxonomic levels.

My research on large pelagics focussed on bigeye tuna (Thunnus obesus) and their biology, life history and distribution in South African waters. Other projects included the age and growth of albacore tuna to provide a growth curve for the southern Atlantic stock for input into assessments. I was also involved in a collaborative project with WWF-South Africa to investigate various mitigation measures against the incidental by-catch of turtles, birds and sharks.

My current research covers and focuses on:

  • Ecology and systematics of segmented marine worms (polychaetes), particularly those found along the Southern and Western African coasts.
  • Taxonomy and Systematics of Marine fishes.

Dylan T. Clarke

MSc. (UWC 2006)

Curator/Marine Fish

Natural History Department

Iziko South African Museum
PO Box 61
Cape Town 8000
South Africa

Tel: +27 (0)21 481 3859
Fax: +27 (0)21 481 3993

Research interests

  • Ecology and systematics of segmented marine worms (polychaetes).
  • Taxonomy and Systematics of Marine fishes.


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