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Alexandra Zieritz

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Faculty of Social Sciences

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Biography

Alexandra is an ecologist/zoologist with 10 years of research and work experience in aquatic ecology and evolution. She graduated from Vienna University with an MSc in Biology in 2006, and obtained her PhD in Zoology from Cambridge University in 2010. She subsequently worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Technical University Munich, Kasetsart University Bangkok and Cambridge University. Her research at UNMC focuses on freshwater molluscs, a neglected but very important part in Malaysian freshwater ecosystems. Alexandra is also involved in several international projects on the spread, impact and management non-native, invasive species.

Research Summary

I am currently focusing on a group of filter-feeding molluscs, called the freshwater mussels or Unionida. These mussels not only provide key functions in rivers, lakes and ponds, but also have high… read more

Recent Publications

Current Research

I am currently focusing on a group of filter-feeding molluscs, called the freshwater mussels or Unionida. These mussels not only provide key functions in rivers, lakes and ponds, but also have high potential for commercialisation due to their ability to produce pearls, and filter nutrients and pollutants from the water. In contrast to many other countries, including China and Thailand, this natural resource has been highly underutilised in Malaysia so far. To a large part, this is due to a lack of knowledge on the diversity, biology and ecological requirements of Malaysian freshwater mussels. Although mussels are threatened by various anthropogenic factors, they currently lack legal protection in Malaysia.

My research aims at filling these major gaps in knowledge, thereby working towards the conservation and sustainable commercialisation of freshwater mussels and their services in Malaysia. I do this in close collaboration with local and international collaborators, and by applying various methods ranging from ecological fieldwork to molecular analysis and geospatial modelling. Specific objectives include to (1) determine diversity, distribution and status of freshwater mussels in Malaysia; (2) determine their efficiency as biofilters of nutrients, algae and heavy metals; and (3) identify candidate species for pearl culture in Malaysia. Last but not lease, I hope to (4) raise awareness and build local expertise in freshwater malacology. All of my projects thus include at least one UNMC student field assistant.

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