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University of KwaZulu-Natal (2019)

Ant diversity and composition in a reforested landscape of Buffelsdraai Landfill Conservancy, KwaZulu-Natal

Xolo, Sbongiseni.

Titre : Ant diversity and composition in a reforested landscape of Buffelsdraai Landfill Conservancy, KwaZulu-Natal.

Auteur : Xolo, Sbongiseni.

Université de soutenance : University of KwaZulu-Natal

Grade : Master of Science In Entomology 2019

Résumé partiel
Restoration of degraded and reclaimed landscapes provide a useful framework to evaluate the recovery of biodiversity loss. A reforestation project was initiated in 2008 by eThekwini Municipality in Buffelsdraai Landfill Conservancy, aiming to offset carbon emissions over a 20-year period and increase climate change adaptation through biodiversity and ecosystem services restoration. The project offered an opportunity to evaluate to what extent reforestation for carbon sequestration can have co-benefits for biodiversity. The current study monitors the recovery of habitat restoration practices (planting of indigenous forest trees) in Buffelsdraai Landfill Conservancy, eThekwini Municipality, KwaZulu-Natal Province, in South Africa. The main aim of the study was to evaluate how biodiversity recovers following forest restoration. The study used ants (Formicidae : Hymenoptera) as a model organism as they comprise a significant component of invertebrate diversity and a keystone taxon in the terrestrial ecosystems. The study objectives were to provide ant checklist in a reforested landscape and to describe ant diversity patterns along a gradient of restoration and to identify the environmental variables which drive the diversity patterns along a reforestation gradient. Using a standardized pitfall survey, ants were sampled across eight sites, each replicated four times, which included sugarcane (unrestored), grassland and scarp forest (natural reference sites), short-term (0-2 year), medium-term (3-5 years) and long-term (6-8 years) restored sites. Ant sampling was conducted in April-May 2017 (early dry season) and December 2017 (wet season). Environmental (habitat structure) and soil surveys were conducted at each plot. A total of 27 439 ant specimens comprising of 96 species in 31 genera, and six subfamilies were collected. Sample coverage estimator was larger than 0.97, indicating that inventory completion approximated most of the ant assemblages found in the study area. Myrmicinae, Ponerinae and Formicinae were the most abundant and species-rich subfamilies, with Tetramorium, Pheidole and Monomorium as the most species-rich genera. The most numerically dominant species were Pheidole megacephala species group and Anoplolepis custodiens.

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