Browsing by Author "Geerts, Sjirk"
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- ItemAssembly and disassembly of bird pollination communities at the Cape of Africa(Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2011-03) Geerts, Sjirk; Pauw, A.; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Science. Dept. of Botany and Zoology.ENGLISH ABSTRACT: With the current global decline in pollinators, and the concurrent decline in plant species, pollination research is becoming increasingly important. However, studies outside Europe and North-America and on groups other than insects are needed to make generalisations possible. In this thesis I study how pollination structures plant and bird communities in a biodiversity hotspot, the Cape Floristic Region of South Africa. I show that bird-plant pollination mutualisms are an important ecological factor structuring ornithophilous Proteaceae and nectar-feeding bird communities. This close association between plant and bird communities suggests an important role for community wide pollination mutualisms. How these mutualisms disassemble in reaction to a range of anthropogenic impacts is determined. Firstly, I use experimental manipulation of honeybee density to test whether honeybee farming affects nectar-feeding birds. Hive addition increased honeybee abundance far above natural levels but nectar-feeding bird pollinators were not consistently affected. Secondly, I document the impact of a two lane tar road on the bird pollination community. The two-fold decline found in pollination along roadsides, should have important implications for the way we view and manage road verges for ecological processes. Thirdly, I investigated how fragmentation affects bird-pollination communities by assessing an endangered, bird-pollinated plant, Brunsvigia litoralis. The only flower visitor at the urban sites, the shorter billed Greater Double-collared Sunbird is unable to access the nectar due to a long perianth tube. The longer billed Malachite Sunbird was the sole pollinator of B. litoralis at the rural site, significantly increased seed set. The lack of ecological analogs in these urban fragments might place pollinator specialist plants, such as B. litoralis, at risk. Fourthly, fire is a frequent disturbance in communities of bird-pollinated plants. In a before/after fire observation study and a burnt/unburnt transplant study, birds visited flowers in the “before fire” and “unburnt” areas only. The results are surprising given the large number of bird-pollinated plants flowering in the early post-fire vegetation. Lastly, I find that alien invasive plant species are incorporated into the native pollination community in a spectacular way; sunbirds adapt to a hummingbird-like, hovering lifestyle to obtain nectar. Alien invasive plants greatly increase nectar-feeding bird abundance; in turn, birds enhance seed set in these alien plants. I conclude by asking whether the disassembling of bird pollination communities really matters. To answer this question I report on a decade of demographic data on the geophytic bird-pollinated Brunsvigia orientalis. In the demographic analysis, the elasticity component for reproduction was more important than expected for a long lived plant. Reduced population growth in the shade and a large investment in a winged inflorescence, suggest B. orientalis is a light demanding, well dispersed, gap colonising species. The link between pollination and seed has been made before, but I take this one step further and show that pollination intensity predicts population growth rate. By linking plant demography and pollination, I was able to predict the future of plant populations under variable pollination conditions. The disassembly of bird pollination communities only becomes important for population persistence once the mutualism has almost entirely broken down.
- ItemDifferent traits determine introduction, naturalization and invasion success in woody plants : proteaceae as a test case(PLoS, 2013-09) Moodley, Desika; Geerts, Sjirk; Richardson, David M.; Wilson, John R. U.A major aim of invasion ecology is to identify characteristics of successful invaders. However, most plant groups studied in detail (e.g. pines and acacias) have a high percentage of invasive taxa. Here we examine the global introduction history and invasion ecology of Proteaceae—a large plant family with many taxa that have been widely disseminated by humans, but with few known invaders. To do this we compiled a global list of species and used boosted regression tree models to assess which factors are important in determining the status of a species (not introduced, introduced, naturalized or invasive). At least 402 of 1674 known species (24%) have been moved by humans out of their native ranges, 58 species (14%) have become naturalized but not invasive, and 8 species (2%) are invasive. The probability of naturalization was greatest for species with large native ranges, low susceptibility to Phytophthora root-rot fungus, large mammal-dispersed seeds, and with the capacity to resprout. The probability of naturalized species becoming invasive was greatest for species with large native ranges, those used as barrier plants, tall species, species with small seeds, and serotinous species. The traits driving invasiveness of Proteaceae were similar to those for acacias and pines. However, while some traits showed a consistent influence at introduction, naturalization and invasion, others appear to be influential at one stage only, and some have contrasting effects at different stages. Trait-based analyses therefore need to consider different invasion stages separately. On their own, these observations provide little predictive power for risk assessment, but when the causative mechanisms are understood (e.g. Phytophthora susceptibility) they provide valuable insights. As such there is considerable value in seeking the correlates and mechanisms underlying invasions for particular taxonomic or functional groups.
- ItemGuidelines for restoring Lowland Sand Fynbos ecosystems(2022-02) Holmes, Patricia M.; Esler, Karen J.; Geerts, Sjirk; Ngwenya, Duduzile K.; Rebelo, Anthony G.; Dorse, Clifford; van der Merwe, Jacques; Retief, Jacobus; Hall, Stuart A.; Grey, Penelope; Nsikani, Mlungele N.; Faculty of AgriSciences, Department of Conservation Ecology and Entomology.Lowland Sand Fynbos ecosystems are among the most threatened terrestrial systems in South Africa. Of the ten Sand Fynbos veld types, seven are Critically Endangered or Endangered according to the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems. They are all either poorly protected, or not protected at all in the conservation network. Sand Fynbos ecosystems harbour unique biodiversity, but owing to their lowland locations experience extensive losses to other land uses. Some natural pockets remain scattered within agricultural or urban developments. They are, however degraded due to invasive alien plants, inappropriate fire regimes or pollution and are an urgent priority to restore. National biodiversity targets aim for a minimum proportion of an ecosystem type to be retained in a natural or near-natural state. The minimum target for Sand Fynbos ecosystems is mostly 30% of the original extent – a target no longer attainable for several of these ecosystems, such as Cape Flats Sand Fynbos. For many of these precious systems, this means a necessary focus on their restoration. The purpose of these guidelines is to assist managers and landowners of degraded Sand Fynbos vegetation to restore biodiversity and contribute to the conservation of these threatened ecosystems. The guidelines outline appropriate methods to restore degraded Sand Fynbos ecosystems, based on the latest research and field trial outcomes.
- ItemThe role of environmental factors in promoting and limiting biological invasions in South Africa(Springer, Cham., 2020) Wilson, John R.; Foxcroft, Llewellyn C.; Geerts, Sjirk; Hoffmann, M. Timm; MacFadyen, Sandra; Measey, John; Mills, Anthony; Richardson, David M.; Robertson, Mark P.; van Wilgen, Brian W.This chapter provides an overview of the researchers and research initiatives relevant to invasion science in South Africa over the past 130 years, profiling some of the more recent personalities, particularly those who are today regarded as international leaders in the field. A number of key points arise from this review. Since 1913, South Africa has been one of a few countries that have investigated and implemented alien plant biological control on a large scale, and is regarded as a leader in this field. South Africa was also prominent in the conceptualisation and execution of the international SCOPE project on the ecology of biological invasions in the 1980s, during which South African scientists established themselves as valuable contributors to the field. The development of invasion science benefitted from a deliberate strategy to promote multi-organisational, interdisciplinary research in the 1980s. Since 1995, the Working for Water programme has provided funding for research and a host of practical questions that required research solutions. Finally, the establishment of a national centre of excellence with a focus on biological invasions has made a considerable contribution to building human capacity in the field, resulting in advances in all aspects of invasion science—primarily in terms of biology and ecology, but also in history, sociology, economics and management. South Africa has punched well above its weight in developing the field of invasion science, possibly because of the remarkable biodiversity that provided a rich template on which to carry out research, and a small, well-connected research community that was encouraged to operate in a collaborative manner.