Conservation of invertebrate biodiversity on a mountain in a global biodiversity hotspot, Cape Floral Region

Pryke, J. S. ; Samways, Michael J. (2008-07)

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Mountains present particular challenges for biodiversity conservation. Table Mountain is a significant mountain in a global biodiversity hotspot, the Cape Floristic Region. It has outstanding angiosperm diversity and endemism. Yet, aerial and foliage invertebrates in the area have been poorly studied, despite their importance as pollinators and predators. These plant and invertebrate assemblages are under great pressure from human disturbance. Aerial and foliage invertebrates were sampled with a range of techniques. Sites were chosen to make comparisons between vegetation structure and type, elevation and aspect. In total, 216 species from 63 families and 14 orders were recorded. Vegetation structure (fynbos or forest) and elevation were the most important environmental variables for both aerial and foliage invertebrates. Peak time for aerial invertebrate abundance was spring and summer in the fynbos and spring in the forests, while the foliage invertebrates showed very little seasonal variation. There was no correlation between the diversity of aerial and foliage invertebrates. When these results were compared with others on epigaeic invertebrates, it became clear that epigaeic and aerial invertebrates are not correlated, while epigaeic and foliage invertebrates were only partially correlated, but not sufficiently so to consider one as a reliable estimator of the other. The management pointer from this study is that sites at all elevations are vital for the conservation of biodiversity on Table Mountain. Both the aerial and epigaeic/foliage invertebrate assemblages will need to be monitored separately to maintain the mountain's conservation status. © 2008 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

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