Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Koedoe]]> vol. 57 num. 1 lang. es <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>Distribution and impact of the alien anemone <i>Sagartia ornata</i> in the West Coast National Park</b>]]> Sagartia ornata is an alien anemone that occurs intertidally within the West Coast National Park (WCNP). Whilst baseline distributional data was gathered in 2001, the range and abundance of this alien has not been reassessed. The present study aimed to determine the current status and distribution of this anemone, to assess its diet so as to establish the role it may play as predator and to investigate its impact on sandy-shore communities. Sagartia ornata was found to be restricted to the WCNP, where it occurred in densities of up to 508 ± 218 individuals per m². Within the park the distribution of this anemone had changed. Populations were recorded in Nanozostera capensis seagrass beds for the first time and this alien was absent from two areas in which it had previously occurred. Diet analysis revealed indigenous polychaetes and amphipods as the dominant prey items consumed by S. ornata. This alien was found to significantly alter sandy-shore community structure, with differences caused primarily by increases in the abundance and biomass of the tanaid Anatanais gracilis and the polychaete Orbinia angrapequensis.Additionally, invaded areas supported significantly greater invertebrate diversity, density and biomass. It is concluded that whilst this anemone negatively affects native biota, its current dependence on restricted habitats precludes widespread impacts with the park. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: With regard to conservation implications, this invasion should be routinely monitored outside the WCNP as in its native range S. ornata occurs on rocky shores and kelp holdfasts, suggesting a potential for spread along the west coast of South Africa. <![CDATA[<b>An inventory of epigeal ants of the western Soutpansberg Mountain Range, South Africa</b>]]> The distribution, abundance and sensitivity of invertebrates to habitat change are largely unknown. Long-term monitoring of ecological gradients with standardised and comparable protocols can form the basis of a better understanding. Altitudinal gradients are particularly relevant within this context. Here we provide a check list and baseline data for ant species collected over a 5-year period across the Soutpansberg Mountain Range, South Africa. Standardised pitfall surveys across 11 sites yielded a total of 133 species in 38 genera and 6 subfamilies. Sample coverage of epigeal ants was 0.98 for the transect as a whole. Of these species, 21% were restricted to the southern slope of the mountain and 14% to the northern slope. Extrapolated richness estimates reached an asymptote for all, except for three sites. These were the only sites impacted by bush encroachment. Observed richness was the highest at a low-altitude mesic site that is exposed to considerable disturbance by megaherbivores and mechanical clearing of woody vegetation. Structural classification of vegetation was predictive of a broad-scale ant assemblage structure. On a smaller scale, however, structure was a function of elevation, space and temperature. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: Future monitoring should target indicator taxa associated with bush encroachment, particularly with reference to their impacts on grasslands. Bush encroachment could endanger several ant species associated with mesic grasslands and woodlands on the mountain, as well as ant diversity, as these were the habitats with the highest ant diversity. <![CDATA[<b>A phytosociology survey and vegetation description of inselbergs in the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site, South Africa</b>]]> No previous scientific surveys have been conducted on inselbergs in the Drakensberg. The aim of this study was to collect specimens, identify, describe and name the vegetation clusters and assess biogeographical connections with other Afromontane regions. A total of 103 relevés where sampled from six inselbergs. The plant sampling was carried out according to the Braun-Blanquet method with the plant and environmental data entered in TURBOVEG and exported as a Cornell Condensed format file (CC!) into Juice. Classification was completed using TWINSPAN (Two-way Indicator Species Analysis) (modified), resulting in 4 major communities, 11 communities, 13 sub-communities and 18 variants. Ordination (indirect) was carried out using CANOCO (version 4.5) to investigate the relationship between species. The four major communities identified are Rhodohypoxis rubella (wetland grass and forblands), Scirpus ficinioides - Crassula peploides (sheet rock grass and forblands), Pentaschistis exserta (high-altitude alpine grassland), previously undescribed, and Merxmuellera drakensbergensis - Helichrysum trilineatum (high-altitude alpine fynbos grassland), described in other vegetation and floristic studies. Four habitats were identified, namely wetlands, sheet rock shallow soil, high-altitude alpine grassland and deep soil high-altitude fynbos grasslands. Substrate and moisture availability appeared to be the defining micro-climatic conditions determining the different vegetation clusters whilst altitude is the overriding environmental factor influencing all vegetation. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: Rising temperatures as a result of carbon dioxide increase is predicted to drastically decrease the number of endemic and near-endemic montane species, whilst altering the composition of vegetation units which comprise the alpine vegetation. <![CDATA[<b>Foraging range and habitat use by Cape Vulture <i>Gyps coprotheres</i> from the Msikaba colony, Eastern Cape province, South Africa</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>Resilience of imperilled headwater stream fish to an unpredictable high-magnitude flood</b>]]> Headwater stream fish communities are increasingly becoming isolated in headwater refugia that are often cut off from other metapopulations within a river network as a result of non-native fish invasions, pollution, water abstraction and habitat degradation downstream. This range restriction and isolation therefore makes them vulnerable to extinction. Understanding threats to isolated fish populations is consequently important for their conservation. Following a base-flow survey, a high-magnitude flood (peak flow of 1245 m−3s−1) provided an opportunity to investigate the response of endangered Eastern Cape redfin Pseudobarbus afer populations to a natural disturbance in the Waterkloof and Fernkloof streams, two relatively pristine headwater tributaries of the Swartkops River system within the Groendal Wilderness Area, Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. Pseudobarbus afer had limited distributions, occupying 3 km in both the Fernkloof and Waterkloof streams. Fish population assessments before and after the flood event indicated that there were no longitudinal trends in P. afer abundance before or after the flood, but overall abundance post-flooding in the Fernkloof stream was higher. There were no noticeable changes in P. afer size structure pre- and post-flood. Pseudobarbus afer showed resilience to a major flooding event most likely related to evolution in river systems characterised by environmental stochasticity. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: This research provides insight into the population level responses of native headwater stream fishes to unpredictable natural disturbance. Of particular relevance is information on their ability to withstand natural disturbances, which provides novel information essential for their conservation and management especially as these fishes are already impacted by multiple anthropogenic stressors. <![CDATA[<b>Artisanal Fisheries in the Ndumo Area of the Lower Phongolo River Floodplain, South Africa</b>]]> The aim of this study was to investigate the status of artisanal fisheries in the lower Phongolo River floodplain in northern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. A cross-sectional quantitative survey design was used that included the development of a questionnaire and a systematic survey among the five villages bordering the Ndumo Game Reserve. Data were collected over a 5-day period by a group of 16 fieldworkers and analysed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences, version 21. The results revealed that fish was the third most consumed protein in the area, that people consumed fish on average twice a week, that at least six fish species (and one recently introduced crayfish species) were consumed regularly, and that most fish were obtained from local vendors, who in turn bought it from local fishermen and -women. Fishing activities also appeared to occur predominantly along the river system and targeted mainly red-breasted tilapia (Tilapia rendalli) and Mozambique tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus) and, to a slightly lesser extent, African sharptooth catfish (Clarias gariepinus) and brown squeaker (Synodontis zambezensis). CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: Given that Ndumo residents predominantly catch fish by means of non-commercial methods, that they do so for reasons of personal consumption and subsistence, and that they mostly target rivers and dams rather than the ecologically sensitive pans in the region, it would seem likely that fishing in the region might be sustainable for the moment. However, it is recommended that studies on the local fish populations and their reproductive rates be conducted so that the actual impact on local fish populations can be determined more accurately. This study serves to provide the necessary baseline data on fish utilisation in the region, which would enable the impact of artisanal fishing on fish reserves in the Ndumo region to be determined once population studies have been completed. <![CDATA[<b>Aerial surveys conducted along the Garden Route coastline, South Africa, to determine patterns in shore fishing effort</b>]]> Coastal environments provide a wide range of leisure opportunities, including recreational fishing. Understanding spatial and temporal fishing patterns is important in ensuring wise management and sustainable use. To provide information on shore angler effort and distribution, randomised aerial surveys of the Garden Route coast between the eastern border of the Tsitsikamma Marine Protected Area and the Kaaimans River mouth in the west were undertaken between December 2008 and November 2009. A total of 15 flights were conducted, with six flights taking place over weekends, two on public holidays and the balance on normal week days. Angler effort was not uniformly distributed along the coastline, and spatial analysis highlighted coastal areas both inside and outside marine protected areas that had increased angler effort. In general, fishing effort was highest around more densely populated areas and concentrated in areas with easy access. Although angler counts were highly variable, the seasonality of shore angling effort showed a slight increase during autumn and winter and angling effort was significantly higher on weekends. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: Data obtained during these surveys can assist management with future conservation planning exercises, whilst also guiding daily law enforcement patrols to maximise angler encounters. <![CDATA[<b>Diversity of non-acarine arachnids of the Ophathe Game Reserve, South Africa: Testing a rapid sampling protocol</b>]]> As part of the second phase of the South African National Survey of Arachnida (SANSA), field surveys were conducted in many degree-square grids throughout the country using a standardised rapid sampling protocol. This study reports on the arachnid diversity of the Ophathe Game Reserve (OGR) in northern KwaZulu-Natal, as found during a preliminary survey in June 2007 (mid winter) and a SANSA field survey in October 2008 (mid spring) in four representative habitats. The SANSA survey included seven sampling methods: pitfalls, beating, sweep-netting, litter sifting, hand collecting, night collecting and Winkler traps. A total of 282 species in six arachnid orders were collected during the two surveys, of which spiders were the most species-rich order (268 species in 47 families). The SANSA survey yielded 966 adult arachnids, representing six orders and 197 species, with a further 67 species represented only by immatures. Although adult arachnid abundance (n) differed considerably between the four habitats (range: 156-321), adult species richness (Sobs) was less variable (range: 65-85). These survey results are comparable with several longer-term surveys in the Savanna biome, and indicate that the SANSA sampling protocol can yield an impressive diversity of arachnids during a relatively short period of sampling, with a high level of coverage (> 0.8 for sites and most sampling methods) and moderate levels of sample completion for adults (> 0.55 for all sites), despite logistical and temporal challenges. Additional repetitions of the SANSA sampling protocol in other seasons will likely increase biodiversity knowledge of arachnids in OGR considerably. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: The implementation of rapid sampling protocols in an atlas project is essential to generate a large volume of species-level data. The SANSA protocol is an efficient means for rapidly generating arachnid data, and in future will allow for an assessment of diversity patterns in degree-square grids across South Africa. <![CDATA[<b>Conserving a geographically isolated <i>Charaxes </i>butterfly in response to habitat fragmentation and invasive alien plants</b>]]> In South Africa, much of the forest biome is vulnerable to human-induced disturbance. The forest-dwelling butterfly Charaxes xiphares occidentalis is naturally confined to a small forest region in the south-western Cape, South Africa. Most of the remaining habitat of this species is within a fragmented agricultural matrix. Furthermore, this geographical area is also heavily invaded by alien plants, especially Acacia mearnsii. We investigated how C. x. occidentalis behaviourally responds to different habitat conditions in the landscape. We were particularly interested in touring, patrolling and settling behaviour as a conservation proxy for preference of a certain habitat configuration in this agricultural matrix. Remnant forest patches in the agricultural matrix showed fewer behavioural incidents than in a reference protected area. Moreover, dense stands of A. mearnsii negatively influenced the incidence and settling pattern of this butterfly across the landscape, with fewer tree settlings associated with more heavily invaded forest patches. This settling pattern was predominantly seen in female butterflies. We also identified specific trees that were settled upon for longer periods by C. x. occidentalis. Distance to a neighbouring patch and patch size influenced behavioural incidences, suggesting that further patch degradation and isolation could be detrimental to this butterfly. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: We highlight the importance of clearing invasive tree species from vulnerable forest ecosystems and identify key tree species to consider in habitat conservation and rehabilitation programmes for this butterfly. We also suggest retaining as much intact natural forest as possible. This information should be integrated in local biodiversity management plans. <![CDATA[<b>Movement and Home Range of Nile Crocodiles in Ndumo Game Reserve, South Africa</b>]]> The study of movement patterns and home range is fundamental in understanding the spatial requirements of animals and is important in generating information for the conservation and management of threatened species. Ndumo Game Reserve, in north-eastern KwaZulu-Natal, bordering Mozambique, has the third largest Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus) population in South Africa. Movement patterns of 50 Nile crocodiles with a total length of between 202 cm and 472 cm were followed over a period of 18 months, using mark-resight, radio and satellite telemetry. The duration of radio transmitter attachment (131 ± 11.4 days) was significantly and negatively related to total length and reproductive status. Satellite transmitters failed after an average of 15 ± 12.5 days. Home range was calculated for individuals with 10 or more radio locations, spanning a period of at least 6 months. There was a significant relationship between home range size and total length, with sub-adults (1.5 m - 2.5 m) occupying smaller, more localised home ranges than adults (> 2.5 m). The largest home ranges were for adults (> 2.5 m). Home ranges overlapped extensively, suggesting that territoriality, if present, does not result in spatially discrete home ranges of Nile crocodiles in Ndumo Game Reserve during the dry season. Larger crocodiles moved farther and more frequently than smaller crocodiles. The reserve acts as a winter refuge and spring breeding site for an estimated 846 crocodiles, which also inhabit the Rio Maputo during the summer months. Nile crocodile movement out of the reserve and into the Rio Maputo starts in November and crocodiles return to the reserve as water levels in the floodplain recede in May. <![CDATA[<b>Undeclared baggage: Do tourists act as vectors for seed dispersal in fynbos protected areas?</b>]]> Encroachment by alien species is the second greatest threat to biodiversity worldwide. As South Africa's Cape Floristic Region has a botanical endemism of nearly 70%, conservation efforts are a high priority. Estimates suggest that alien species cost the country over R6.5 billion per year. Despite significant research on alien species dispersal, the role of tourists as seed dispersers requires further exploration. To investigate the potential role tourists play in introducing alien seeds into protected areas, long-bristle brushes were used to scrape seeds off the shoes of hikers, dog walkers and cyclists, as well as the wheels of mountain bikes and dogs themselves, upon entering the Silvermine Nature Reserve section of the Table Mountain National Park in the Western Cape province, South Africa. In addition, a vegetation survey was conducted. This comprised 18 transects at various distances from the recreational paths in the park, and used a prioritisation ranking system that identified the alien species of greatest concern. It was concluded that the greatest number of alien plant species could be found along dog paths, in comparison to the hiking trails and cycling trails. This corresponded to the findings that dog walkers had the highest incidence of seeds on their shoes, suggesting that tourists were possibly dispersing seeds from their gardens. Alien species significantly covered more of the vegetation transects closer to the trails than they did in transects further into the matrix. Because more alien species were present in areas susceptible to human disturbance, the data suggest that tourists can act as vectors for alien seed dispersal. These findings emphasise the need for active tourism management in line with the South African National Parks Biodiversity Monitoring Programme in order to prevent the introduction and spread of alien species into South Africa's protected areas. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: Tourism is the main source of revenue for South African National Parks, and one of the organisation's principal goals is to create a tourism management policy conducive to conservation. This research explores the potential role that tourists may play in the introduction of non-native species into a protected area, thereby providing novel information that could assist managers in the sustainable management of protected areas <![CDATA[<b>Elephant movement patterns in relation to human inhabitants in and around the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park</b>]]> The presence of humans and African elephants (Loxodonta africana) in the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park can create situations of potential human-elephant conflict. Such conflict will likely be exacerbated as elephant and human populations increase, unless mitigation measures are put in place. In this study we analysed the movement patterns of 13 collared adult African elephants from the northern Kruger National Park over a period of eight years (2006-2014). We compared the occurrence and displacement rates of elephant bulls and cows around villages in the Limpopo National Park and northern border of the Kruger National Park across seasons and at different times of the day. Elephants occurred close to villages more often in the dry season than in the wet season, with bulls occurring more frequently around villages than cows. Both the bulls and the cows preferred to use areas close to villages from early evening to midnight, with the bulls moving closer to villages than the cows. These results suggest that elephants, especially the bulls, are moving through the studied villages in Mozambique and Zimbabwe at night and that these movements are most common during the drier months when resources are known to be scarce. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: Elephants from the Kruger National Park are moving in close proximity to villages within the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park. Resettlement of villages within and around the park should therefore be planned away from elephant seasonal routes to minimise conflict between humans and elephants. <![CDATA[<b>MtDNA lineage diversity of a potamonautid freshwater crab in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa</b>]]> Five species of freshwater crab (genus Potamonautes) are known from KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, whilst a sixth (Potamonautes isimangaliso) was recently described from the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. Earlier molecular studies of crab diversity in the province were largely limited in geographic scope or employed genetic markers, ill-suited for identifying intraspecific diversity. Possible species-level diversity or cryptic taxa may have thus remained undetected. In this study, lineage diversity was examined in a widespread species, Potamonautes sidneyi, using mitochondrial sequence data, to determine whether this species harbours cryptic diversity that could be of conservation importance in the province, particularly with respect to the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. The taxonomic status of P. isimangaliso was also assessed. Mitochondrial sequence data were generated and analysed to identify unique lineages and to examine their distributions. Phylogenetic analyses were used to determine whether these lineages represented known or potentially novel species, using comparative data from southern African Potamonautes species. Seven independent networks were identified within P. sidneyi and substantial structure was observed amongst sampling localities. Phylogenetic analyses revealed two distinct, divergent lineages in P. sidneyi. One was positively assigned to P. sidneyi, whereas the placement of the other suggested a novel species. These results suggested possible species diversity within P. sidneyi, with one lineage occurring in the north-east of the province, around the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. Potamonautes isimangaliso was clearly allied to Potamonautes lividus, but genetic divergences suggested that P. isimangaliso is a distinct taxon and that P. lividus may represent a species complex. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: This study confirmed unique freshwater crab diversity, both within KwaZulu-Natal and associated with the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. <![CDATA[<b>Unintended consequences of using alien fish for human benefit in protected areas</b>]]> There is increasing pressure on conservation agencies to allow access to natural resources within protected areas for human benefit. Alien fishes are often seen as a convenient resource because their harvest does not conflict with conservation goals. However, allowing such access may have unintended consequences for managers. This opinion essay is intended to provide some insights into how promoting access to alien fish resources can add to the complexity of conservation interventions, may facilitate additional fish introductions and create dependencies on alien fish that could compromise potential eradication efforts. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: Management plans for the utilisation of alien fishes by external stakeholders must include clear exit strategies so that the ability to eradicate when necessary or feasible is not compromised. <![CDATA[<b>A checklist of the plants of the forests and grasslands in the Weza district, southern KwaZulu-Natal and a review of their status in the Red Data List</b>]]> Eastern mistbelt forests are naturally fragmented forests with grassland which occur from the Eastern Cape to KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. These were heavily logged by colonial settlers and continue to be harvested despite being protected. Consequently we documented a checklist of the plants of the forests and grasslands in the Weza district (3029DA WEZA), southern KwaZulu-Natal, including Ngeli Forest and nearby indigenous forest patches to highlight their biodiversity status and need for conservation. We also reviewed their status in the Red Data List. Of the 1554 records included in this summary of plant species for the Weza district, there were 6 lichens (0.4%), 46 bryophytes (3.0%), 58 pteridophytes (3.7%), 6 gymnosperms (0.4%) and the remaining 1424 species angiosperms (92.5%). Of the angiosperms, 27.3% were monocotyledons and 72.7% were dicotyledons. The most species-rich family was Asteraceae (239 species) followed by Fabaceae (115 species), Liliaceae (used for purposes of comparison against older studies - 89 species), Orchidaceae (89 species), Iridaceae (59 species), Poaceae (58 species), Asclepidaceae (again used for purposes of comparison against older studies - 57 species), Scrophulariaceae (42 species), Euphorbiaceae (32 species), Lamiaceae (32 species) and Rubiaceae (27 species). These 10 families each comprised more than 2% of the species in the list. Together they contributed 55% of the angiosperm species and 34.1% of the angiosperm genera. The biodiversity and conservation value of the study area are conserved pockets of eastern mistbelt forest, Drakensberg foothill moist grassland and mistbelt grassland. More than 4% of the species are under some degree of threat, as was evidenced by the number of species regarded as endangered (5), vulnerable (18), near threatened (10), critically rare (1), rare (20) or declining (11) amongst the 1554 species covered in the list. <![CDATA[<b>World Parks Congress 2014: Parks, people and planet</b>]]> Eastern mistbelt forests are naturally fragmented forests with grassland which occur from the Eastern Cape to KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. These were heavily logged by colonial settlers and continue to be harvested despite being protected. Consequently we documented a checklist of the plants of the forests and grasslands in the Weza district (3029DA WEZA), southern KwaZulu-Natal, including Ngeli Forest and nearby indigenous forest patches to highlight their biodiversity status and need for conservation. We also reviewed their status in the Red Data List. Of the 1554 records included in this summary of plant species for the Weza district, there were 6 lichens (0.4%), 46 bryophytes (3.0%), 58 pteridophytes (3.7%), 6 gymnosperms (0.4%) and the remaining 1424 species angiosperms (92.5%). Of the angiosperms, 27.3% were monocotyledons and 72.7% were dicotyledons. The most species-rich family was Asteraceae (239 species) followed by Fabaceae (115 species), Liliaceae (used for purposes of comparison against older studies - 89 species), Orchidaceae (89 species), Iridaceae (59 species), Poaceae (58 species), Asclepidaceae (again used for purposes of comparison against older studies - 57 species), Scrophulariaceae (42 species), Euphorbiaceae (32 species), Lamiaceae (32 species) and Rubiaceae (27 species). These 10 families each comprised more than 2% of the species in the list. Together they contributed 55% of the angiosperm species and 34.1% of the angiosperm genera. The biodiversity and conservation value of the study area are conserved pockets of eastern mistbelt forest, Drakensberg foothill moist grassland and mistbelt grassland. More than 4% of the species are under some degree of threat, as was evidenced by the number of species regarded as endangered (5), vulnerable (18), near threatened (10), critically rare (1), rare (20) or declining (11) amongst the 1554 species covered in the list. <![CDATA[<b>Assessments of occurrence and distribution of mammals in forests of the Garden Route National Park based on camera trapping</b>]]> Eleven mammal census sites were selected in four different Afrotemperate Forest types in the Garden Route National Park, South Africa. At each site, an array of eight camera traps was deployed along trails for between 28 and 45 days. Based on accumulation curves, this was generally sufficient for recording most of the focal mammal species at each site. Only 12 mammal (≥ 1 kg) species were recorded, two of which were primarily wetland species. The most widely captured taxa were bushbuck, Tragelaphus scriptus (all 11 sites); and caracal, Caracal caracal (10 sites). The most frequently photographed species were bushbuck (40%) and chacma baboon, Papio ursinus (22%). The number of species and total capture rates did not differ (P &gt; 0.10) between dry (scrub and high) forests and moist (medium-moist to wet) forests, or between small (< 41 km²) forests and a large forest complex. However, at species level, the capture rates of caracal and vervet monkey, Chlorocebus pygerythus; were significantly lower (P≤ 0.05) in the large forest complex than in small forests, whilst those of bushpig, Potamochoerus larvatus; were higher. Trapping cycles of between 28 and 45 days, which recorded the highest number of threatened and protected South African species, were from small forests. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: The role of small forests in the conservation of mammals in the Garden Route National Park should be investigated further, because relatively high numbers of threatened and protected South African mammal species were recorded in these locations. <![CDATA[<b>A checklist of the reptiles and amphibians found in protected areas along the South African Wild Coast, with notes on conservation implications</b>]]> We surveyed six protected areas along the Wild Coast of the Eastern Cape, South Africa, to determine general herpetofaunal diversity as well as the representation of species of special conservation concern. Visual encounter survey methods and standard Y-shape trap arrays were used to conduct surveys from 2011 to 2013. A total of 59 species (22 amphibians and 37 reptiles) were recorded. A number of previously unknown populations of threatened species and one potential novel species were discovered in these protected areas, and the known ranges of several other species were extended. A total of 243 quarter-degree grid-cell unit records were documented, of which 90 (23% amphibians and 50% reptiles) represented the first records for the area. Amphibian and reptile diversity increased along the coast and a number of species of conservation concern were well represented in current protected areas. Our study provides a comprehensive amphibian and reptile checklist for an under-sampled region and highlights the importance of baseline data for improving conservation management. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: Small protected areas play an important role in conserving a number of threatened herpetofaunal species along the Wild Coast. The region is currently under significant and increasing pressure from anthropogenic-induced environmental degradation, which affects biodiversity and subsequently the local inhabitants. The information presented here represents an important baseline for future conservation management. <![CDATA[<b>Big-picture ecology for a small planet</b>]]> For a number of years, the extensive ecosystems of southern Africa have been a testing ground for ideas and techniques useful for studying and managing large-scale complex systems everywhere, and in particular for tackling issues of global change. The first contribution has been through making consistent, long-term, large-scale observations on climate, vegetation and animal dynamics and disturbances. These have been crucial in developing and testing hypotheses regarding how the earth system works at large space and timescales. The observational techniques have evolved dramatically over time: from notes kept by individuals, to systematic measurement programmes by organisations, to continuous and sophisticated measurements made by automated systems such as satellites and flux towers. The second contribution has been experimental, developing the notion that ecosystems can be the subject of deliberate experimental manipulation. Sometimes this has taken the form of large-scale treatments, such as fire trials or herbivore exclusion plots. More frequently, it has made use of the 'experiment' of the protected area in contrast to its surrounds, or has exploited the information in natural or human-induced gradients. Ecosystem experimentation has required rethinking the fundamentals of experimental design: What is the experimental unit? What is the meaning of a control? What constitutes replication? The third contribution has been theoretical. How does the functioning of warm, dry, species-rich ecosystems differ from the cool, moist, species-poor ecosystem examples that dominate the literature? What are the roles of disturbance and competition is maintaining ecosystem diversity, and top-down versus bottom-up control in maintaining ecosystem structure? The fourth contribution concerns the management of large-scale complex systems in the face of limited knowledge. How can the gap between science and policy be narrowed? What advantages and challenges does participatory co-management offer? How do you implement adaptive management? <![CDATA[<b>Feeding preferences of Oxpeckers in Kruger National Park, South Africa</b>]]> Oxpeckers reduce tick loads on ungulate hosts, but they are also known to feed on and exacerbate wounds. An understanding of the feeding behaviours and host preferences of these birds is important since they serve as agents of tick control on both domestic and wild ungulates. We conducted an observational study at two sites within the Kruger National Park in South Africa, exploring the feeding preferences of both Red-billed and Yellow-billed Oxpeckers. Oxpeckers' host preferences, body-location preferences on different hosts, prevalence of feeding and non-feeding behaviours, and frequency of tolerance versus rejection in different hosts were determined. It was found that Yellow-billed Oxpeckers had a smaller range of hosts - typically larger-sized ungulates - and that Red-billed Oxpeckers diversify to smaller-sized ungulate hosts when in competition with Yellow-billed Oxpeckers. Body-location preferences were generally consistent across sites and across host species. Tick feeding and other host-feeding behaviours (around the eyes, nose, mouth and ears, and anogenital areas) were fairly common. Only six incidents of wound feeding, from a total of 855 observations, were recorded. Tolerance by an ungulate host species was not related to Oxpeckers' host preferences, suggesting that other factors such as ungulate body size, tick species and tick stages on the host animal may play a significant role in the feeding preferences of Oxpeckers. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: It is important to study Oxpeckers' behavioural feeding preferences so as to better understand their ecology and present distribution, and to determine where they can be reintroduced in future. Reintroduction not only helps with the proliferation of Oxpeckers, but also benefits ungulate hosts through ectoparasite removal and the subsequent control of tick-borne diseases. <![CDATA[<b>Population demography and global sensitivity analysis of <i>Avicennia marina </i>on the eastern and western coasts of Saudi Arabia</b>]]> Mangrove ecosystems are one of the habitats that host high environmental diversity at the level of physical, geomorphological and biological features in arid regions. In Saudi Arabia, mangrove ecosystems are heavily threatened by both natural hazards and human pressure. The total estimated area of mangroves in Safwa Al Khurais, Saudi Arabia, is approximately 20 000 ha in extent and comprises two species: Avicennia marina and Rhizophora mucronata. They supply detritus to the marine food web and play a significant role in the conservation of biological diversity. The main objective of this study was to analyse the demographic population sensitivity of A. marina in two representative sites on the Red Sea and the eastern coast of Saudi Arabia. A sensitivity analysis was used to assess the contributions of the inputs to the total uncertainty in the analysis outcomes. Demographic features affecting mangroves in Saudi Arabia are complex and include various aspects. The phenological phase, tree size, density, cover, number of dead trees and pneumatophore characteristics were considered in this study. A comparative analysis of Gaussian process emulators for performing a global sensitivity analysis was used to conduct a variance-based sensitivity analysis to identify which uncertain inputs drive the output uncertainty. The results showed that the interconnections between different demographic features were predictable, but that the extent of the sensitivity was uncertain. Findings from the current study are anticipated to contribute significantly towards an inclusive mangrove demographic features assessment, and towards the subsequent conservation of mangroves in Saudi Arabia. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: The findings of the current research are discussed in light of the application of sensitivity analyses outputs in the conservation and management of mangrove ecosystems at a national level.