Browsing by Author "Veldtman, Ruan"
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- ItemAboveground biomass and carbon in a South African mistbelt forest and the relationships with tree species diversity and forest structures(MDPI, 2016) Mensah, Sylvanus; Veldtman, Ruan; Du Toit, Ben; Kakai, Romain Glele; Seifert, ThomasENGLISH ABSTRACT: Biomass and carbon stocks are key information criteria to understand the role of forests in regulating global climate. However, for a bio-rich continent like Africa, ground-based measurements for accurate estimation of carbon are scarce, and the variables affecting the forest carbon are not well understood. Here, we present the first biomass study conducted in South Africa Mistbelt forests. Using data from a non-destructive sampling of 59 trees of four species, we (1) evaluated the accuracy of multispecies aboveground biomass (AGB) models, using predictors such as diameter at breast height (DBH), total height (H) and wood density; (2) estimated the amount of biomass and carbon stored in the aboveground compartment of Mistbelt forests and (3) explored the variation of aboveground carbon (AGC) in relation to tree species diversity and structural variables. We found significant effects of species on wood density and AGB. Among the candidate models, the model that incorporated DBH and H as a compound variable (DBH2 × H) was the best fitting. AGB and AGC values were highly variable across all plots, with average values of 358.1 Mg·ha−1 and 179.0 Mg·C·ha−1, respectively. Few species contributed 80% of AGC stock, probably as a result of selection effect. Stand basal area, basal area of the ten most important species and basal area of the largest trees were the most influencing variables. Tree species richness was also positively correlated with AGC, but the basal area of smaller trees was not. These results enable insights into the role of biodiversity in maintaining carbon storage and the possibilities for sustainable strategies for timber harvesting without risk of significant biomass decline.
- ItemHoneybush (Cyclopia spp.) phenology and associated arthropod diversity in the Overberg region, South Africa(AOSIS, 2019) Slabbert, Eleonore; Malgas, Rhoda; Veldtman, Ruan; Addison, PiaBackground: Cyclopia is endemic to regions of the Cape Floristic Region across the Eastern and Western Cape provinces of South Africa and is commonly known as honeybush. Honeybush has historically been used as an herbal tea, and has proven medicinal properties. Honeybush biomass and extracts are used in the functional foods and cosmetics sectors, both locally and overseas. The growing demand for honeybush calls for increased agricultural production and a shift away from the predominantly wild harvested supply. Objectives: The current study aimed to address the lack of baseline knowledge on honeybush phenology and its associated arthropod community to advance sustainable production of commercially valued plants in the genus. Method: The study was conducted on wild and cultivated Cyclopia species (Cyclopia maculata and Cyclopia genistoides) at respective sites in the Overberg region. Sampling took place from April 2014 to April 2015 using qualitative methods for recording seasonal honeybush phenology and suction sampling for aboveground arthropods. Focal insect taxa (Coleoptera, Hemiptera, Thysanoptera, Lepidoptera and Hymenoptera) were sorted and identified to family level and classified into functional feeding guilds. Results: Qualitative phenology observations of wild C. maculata and cultivated C. genistoides indicated a high level of congruency in seasonality of phenophase stages. Associated arthropod assemblages contained a diversity of families per functional feeding group, namely phytophagous, zoophagous and omnivorous taxa, with high seasonal variability. Conclusion: Findings highlight the complexity of ecological elements to be taken into consideration for ecologically sound honeybush cultivation. Outcomes can be applied to land management practices and governance policies promoting sustainable agroecosystems in honeybush production areas.
- ItemIncluding irrigation in niche modelling of the invasive wasp Vespula germanica (Fabricius) improves model fit to predict potential for further spread(Public Library of Science, 2017) De Villiers, Marelize; Kriticos, Darren J.; Veldtman, RuanThe European wasp, Vespula germanica (Fabricius) (Hymenoptera: Vespidae), is of Palaearctic origin, being native to Europe, northern Africa and Asia, and introduced into North America, Chile, Argentina, Iceland, Ascension Island, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Due to its polyphagous nature and scavenging behaviour, V. germanica threatens agriculture and silviculture, and negatively affects biodiversity, while its aggressive nature and venomous sting pose a health risk to humans. In areas with warmer winters and longer summers, queens and workers can survive the winter months, leading to the build-up of large nests during the following season; thereby increasing the risk posed by this species. To prevent or prepare for such unwanted impacts it is important to know where the wasp may be able to establish, either through natural spread or through introduction as a result of human transport. Distribution data from Argentina and Australia, and seasonal phenology data from Argentina were used to determine the potential distribution of V. germanica using CLIMEX modelling. In contrast to previous models, the influence of irrigation on its distribution was also investigated. Under a natural rainfall scenario, the model showed similarities to previous models. When irrigation is applied, dry stress is alleviated, leading to larger areas modelled climatically suitable compared with previous models, which provided a better fit with the actual distribution of the species. The main areas at risk of invasion by V. germanica include western USA, Mexico, small areas in Central America and in the north-western region of South America, eastern Brazil, western Russia, north-western China, Japan, the Mediterranean coastal regions of North Africa, and parts of southern and eastern Africa.
- ItemInvasive Australian Acacia seed banks: size and relationship with stem diameter in the presence of gall-forming biological control agents(Public Library of Science, 2017) Strydom, Matthys; Veldtman, Ruan; Ngwenya, Mzabalazo Z.; Esler, Karen J.Australian Acacia are invasive in many parts of the world. Despite significant mechanical and biological efforts to control their invasion and spread, soil-stored seed banks prevent their effective and sustained removal. In response South Africa has had a strong focus on employing seed reducing biological control agents to deal with Australian Acacia invasion, a programme that is considered as being successful. To provide a predictive understanding for their management, seed banks of four invasive Australian acacia species (Acacia longifolia, A. mearnsii, A. pycnantha and A. saligna) were studied in the Western Cape of South Africa. Across six to seven sites for each species, seed bank sizes were estimated from dense, monospecific stands by collecting 30 litter and soil samples. Average estimated seed bank size was large (1017 to 17261 seed m⁻²) as was annual input into the seed bank, suggesting that these seed banks are not residual but are replenished in size annually. A clear relationship between seed bank size and stem diameter was established indicating that mechanical clearing should be conducted shortly after fire-stimulated recruitment events or within old populations when seed banks are small. In dense, monospecific stands seed-feeding biological control agents are not effective in reducing seed bank size.
- ItemMeasures, perceptions and scaling patterns of aggregated species distributions(Nordic Society Oikos, 2010) Hui, Cang; Veldtman, Ruan; McGeoch, Melodie A.Non-random (aggregated) species distributions arise from habitat heterogeneity and nonlinear biotic processes. A comprehensive understanding of the concept of aggregation, as well as its measurement, is pivotal to our understanding of species distributions and macroecological patterns. Here, using an individual-based model, we analyzed opinions on the concept of aggregation from the public and experts (trained ecologists), in addition to those calculated from a variety of aggregation indices. Three forms of scaling patterns (logarithmic, power-law and lognormal) and four groups of scaling trajectories emerged. The experts showed no significant difference from the public, although with a much lower deviation. The public opinion was partially influenced by the abundance of individuals in the spatial map, which was not found in the experts. With the increase of resolution (decrease of grain), aggregation indices showed a general trend from significantly different to significantly similar to the expert opinion. The over-dispersion index (i.e. the clumping parameter k in the negative binomial distribution) performed, at certain scales, as the closest index to the expert opinion. Examining performance of aggregation measures from different groups of scaling patterns was proposed as a practical way of analyzing spatial structures. The categorization of the scaling patterns of aggregation measures, as well as their over- and in-sensitivity towards spatial structures, thus not only provides a potential solution to the modifiable areal unit problem, but also unveils the interrelationship among the concept, measures and perceptions of aggregated species distributions.
- ItemSeed survival of Australian Acacia in the Western Cape of South Africa in the presence of biological control agents and given environmental variation(PeerJ, 2019) Strydom, Matthys; Veldtman, Ruan; Ngwenya, Mzabalazo Z.; Esler, Karen J.Studies of invasive Australian Acacia have shown that many seeds are still produced and accumulate in soil stored seed banks regardless of the presence of seed-targeting biological control agents. This is despite claims of biological control success, although there is generally a lack of data on the seed production of invasive Australian Acacia before and after the release of the respective agents. We aimed to quantify seed production and seed survival of invasive Australian Acacia currently under biological control. The seed production and survival (proportion of aborted, predated and surviving seeds) of A. longifolia, A. pycnantha and A. saligna were each studied at four to five sites in the Western Cape of South Africa. The relationships between seed production and stand characteristics were determined and the relative effects of seed predation and abortion on seed survival were established. The investigated invasive Australian Acacia produced many seeds that survived the pre-dispersal stage despite long-term presence of released biological control agents. It was shown that seed crop size is the only significant factor influencing seed survival of the studied Australian Acacia species. Furthermore, the seeds surviving per tree and per square meter were related to tree size. No quantitative evidence was found to suggest that seed-reducing biological control agents are having an impact on the population dynamics of their Australian Acacia hosts. This study illustrates the importance of studying the seed ecology of invasive plants before biological control agents are selected and released.
- ItemTree species diversity promotes aboveground carbon storage through functional diversity and functional dominance(Wiley Open Access, 2016) Mensah, Sylvanus; Veldtman, Ruan; Assogbadjo, Achille E.; Kakai, Romain Glele; Seifert, ThomasENGLISH ABSTRACT: The relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem function has increasingly been debated as the cornerstone of the processes behind ecosystem services delivery. Experimental and natural field-based studies have come up with nonconsistent patterns of biodiversity–ecosystem function, supporting either niche complementarity or selection effects hypothesis. Here, we used aboveground carbon (AGC) storage as proxy for ecosystem function in a South African mistbelt forest, and analyzed its relationship with species diversity, through functional diversity and functional dominance. We hypothesized that (1) diversity influences AGC through functional diversity and functional dominance effects; and (2) effects of diversity on AGC would be greater for functional dominance than for functional diversity. Community weight mean (CWM) of functional traits (wood density, specific leaf area, and maximum plant height) were calculated to assess functional dominance (selection effects). As for functional diversity (complementarity effects), multitrait functional diversity indices were computed. The first hypothesis was tested using structural equation modeling. For the second hypothesis, effects of environmental variables such as slope and altitude were tested first, and separate linear mixed-effects models were fitted afterward for functional diversity, functional dominance, and both. Results showed that AGC varied significantly along the slope gradient, with lower values at steeper sites. Species diversity (richness) had positive relationship with AGC, even when slope effects were considered. As predicted, diversity effects on AGC were mediated through functional diversity and functional dominance, suggesting that both the niche complementarity and the selection effects are not exclusively affecting carbon storage. However, the effects were greater for functional diversity than for functional dominance. Furthermore, functional dominance effects were strongly transmitted by CWM of maximum plant height, reflecting the importance of forest vertical stratification for diversity–carbon relationship. We therefore argue for stronger complementary effects that would be induced also by complementary light-use efficiency of tree and species growing in the understory layer.
- ItemThe unknown underworld : understanding soil health in South Africa(Academy of Science of South Africa, 2014-05) Louw, Schalk v. d. M.; Wilson, John R. U.; Janion, Charlene; Veldtman, Ruan; Davies, Sarah J.; Addison, MatthewThe need to provide food security to a growing human population in the face of global threats such as climate change, land transformation, invasive species and pollution is placing increasing pressure on South African soils. South Africa is losing an estimated 300–400 million tonnes of soil annually, while soil degradation is a major threat to agricultural sustainability. In spite of these problems, treatment of soil health in biodiversity assessment and planning in South Africa has been rudimentary to date.