Acarology Department


Acarologists appointed Research Associates

11 January 2017

Drs Louise Coetzee (left) and Lizel Hugo-Coetzee have been appointed Research Associates in the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the Univeristy of the Free State.  They will be collaborating with the Department of Zoology and Entomology.  

EURAAC in Valencia, Spain

10 January 2017

Dr Lizel Hugo-Coetzee attended the 8th symposium of the European Association of Acarologists (EURAAC) in Valencia, Spain in July.  There were 140 delegates from 33 countries.  Topics included mite taxonomy, ecology, biological control, climate change, invasions and forensics.  The title of Lizel’s presentation was Distribution patterns of microarthropods on sub-Antarctic Marion Island across altitude and aspect: climate change implications.


From left: Drs Lizel Hugo-Coetzee (South Africa), Andrea Lienhard (Austria), Julia Jagersbacher-Baumann (Austria), Satoshi Shimano (Japan) and Tobias Pfingstl (Austria).

Mites in Art

12 December 2014

Oliewenhuis Art Museum Education Officer, Yolanda de Kock, came up with the brilliant idea to “pair” departments at the National Museum with contemporary South African artists to observe the investigations, results and activities of researchers and use this information as inspiration to create artworks. 

Oribatid mites found their way to two artworks – one by Ben Botma, “Tussen-in” (scraperboard and digital print), and one by Elrie Joubert, who made digital prints from light microscope images.  For this project, soil was collected from the garden of Oliewenhuis Art Museum, and the oribatids were extracted, identified and photographed.

The project of combining research, education and exhibition fits the mission of the National Museum perfectly: to provide heritage resources and an enjoyable experience to all people through quality research, conservation, education and exhibitions.

The Inquisitive Mind: Science and Imagination can be viewed at Oliewenhuis Art Museum until 1 February 2015.


Second workshop of the Soil Ecosystem Research Group

19 September 2013

Louise Coetzee and Lizel Hugo-Coetzee of the Department of Acarology attended the second meeting of the Soil Ecosystem Research Group (SERG), established in 2011, aiming to form a network to improve communication and develop links between researchers involved in studies of soil biota.  The second workshop of SERG was held during the 18th Congress of the Entomological Society of Southern Africa (ESSA XVIII) from 1 to 3 July at Potchefstroom.  Progress on a paper to review the status of knowlegde regarding soil biota in South Africa was discussed.  The paper is collaboratively drafted with researchers from various institutions and universities, all working on taxonomy of soil biota.  Integrative sampling techniques and funding opportunities were also discussed.


21 August 2012

Louise Coetzee and Prof Reinhardt Schuster, retired acarologist fromGraz, Austria
Louise Coetzee and Prof. Reinhardt Schuster, retired acarologist from Graz, Austria.

Louise Coetzee attended the 7th symposium of the European Association of Acarologists (EURAAC), held from 9 – 13 July 2012 at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), Vienna, Austria.  Louise presented a paper “An overview of the genus Afroleius (Acari, Oribatida)” in which certain character states not previously noticed in this genus were illustrated and a reinterpretation of other characters were discussed.

Apart from the scientific content of a conference, it is also a valuable experience to make social contact with colleagues from all over the world.



Soil Ecology Workshop

21 July 2011

A soil ecology workshop was held on 6 July 2011 during the 17th Congress of the Entomological Society of Southern Africa, held at the University of the Free State from 3 – 6 July.  The workshop was attended by taxonomists and other researchers concerned with soil biota.  Presentations were made by a number of specialists working on various ecologically important soil dwellers.  The message from this workshop was clear: the shortage of taxonomists in these groups is severe.  A soil ecology research group was established in order to find measures to address this problem.

Louise Coetzee presented a talk “Mites in Soil” pointing out the ecological role of oribatid (soil) mites as well as the taxonomic status of Oribatida in South Africa.  Dr Lizel Hugo-Coetzee presented a poster (co-authored by Dr Nico Avenant) “Soil mite (Acari: Oribatida) response to prescribed fire in a central South African grassland”.

Attendants at the Soil Ecology WorkshopAttendants at the inaugural meeting of the Soil Ecology Research Group (Louise Coetzee 2nd row, second from left; Lizel Hugo-Coetzee 2nd row, third from left).

International Congress of Acarology

6 October 2010

Dr Lizel Hugo-Coetzee from the Acarology Department, National Museum, Bloemfontein, attended the 13th International Congress of Acarology from 23-27 August, 2010, in Recife, Brazil, where she reported on the effect of fire on soil mite communities in Free State grasslands.

The Congress was attended by 380 delegates from 41 countries. Other South Africans present at the Congress were Dr Eddie Ueckermann (Plant Protection Research Institute, Agricultural Research Council), Prof. Pieter Theron (School of Environmental Sciences & Development, North West University), Dr Louwrens Tiedt (Laboratory of Electron Microscopy, North West University) and Dr Jacob den Heyer (Department of Zoology & Entomology, University of the Free State.

Acarology Congress
Dr Lizel Hugo-Coetzee (4th from left) with participants at the Acarology Congress, Recife, Brazil