... Skukuza Conference Centre - Foyer Areaa (FOD)

How Global South Research Can Shape the Future of Comparative Physiology

Organisers: Kênia Cardoso Bícego and Andrea Fuller

Date: 10 - 13 March 2024

Location: Skukuza conference centre, Kruger National Park, South Africa

Comparative physiology, a discipline of physiology that exploits the understanding of how different animals function, provides the critical link to understand how organismal performance determines geographical distributions of animals. The many exquisite adaptations to extreme environments also provide valuable animal models to understand disease mechanisms and contribute to understanding drivers for major evolutionary transitions.

With rapid habitat loss and climate change, we are witnessing a devastating loss of biodiversity, and there is a need to define how and why certain species are vulnerable or resilient to climate change, loss of biotopes and fragmentation of natural areas. Robust predictions and useful advice for policy makers require that we fully integrate understanding at various levels of biological organisation (genomes, population genetics, cellular and organ functions) in organismal biology to appreciate how the intact organism interacts with its environment. This approach has been the hallmark for comparative physiology over the past decade and we now need to translate our classic approach of “blue sky research” to maintaining planetary health.

The Global South is rich in biodiversity, but its research is poorly represented in comparative physiology, a field that benefits from the functional diversity among species to elucidate physiological mechanisms.

We aim to enable early-career researchers from the Global South to exchange ideas and, in particular, to discuss research approaches and resources that are needed for future comparative physiology research with leading experts in the field.

A subsequent network of support that allows these early-career researchers to develop strong research teams in their home countries will benefit the growth of comparative physiology, through more global participation in national and international conferences, and through innovative new projects, publications and views from the Global South.

We will focus on the following topics:

  • The history of comparative physiology
  • How we define modern comparative physiology
  • How to successfully integrate knowledge from various levels of biological organisation (linking genotype to the phenotype in the environment)
  • Research approaches and methods in modern comparative physiology
  • The value and future role of comparative physiology
  • How comparative physiology can better inform other disciplines
  • The value of comparative physiology in education
  • Opportunities for Global South researchers in comparative physiology
  • Resources and networks needed to support Global South researchers


About Skukuza and the Conference Centre

Delegates will stay at Skukuza Rest Camp and experience some of the iconic wildlife in the Kruger National Park through game drives and a dinner out in the bush.

The state-of-the-art conference facility is set in the heart of Skukuza Rest Camp, within walking distance of the Skukuza Safari Lodge. It presents a unique opportunity for a relaxed conference atmosphere with its own ambience.

We plan to provide a bus to Skukuza from Johannesburg airport. More details will be provided to successful applicants.


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