Assessment of sampling approaches for a multi-taxa invertebrate survey in a South African savanna-mosaic ecosystem

Lovell, S J
Hamer, M L
Slotow, R H
Herbert, D
Austral Ecology
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Invertebrate diversity is seldom included in conservation assessments, primarily because information is lacking. Broad surveys may be too costly, difficult or ineffective. Here we assess a 'shopping basket' approach, targeting 17 taxa using a range of methods. We sampled 43 one-hectare sites stratified within 560 km2 of heterogenous African savanna. We achieved up to 80% sampling completeness for epigaeic fauna, but generally much lower completeness (around 50%) for plant-dwelling and flying taxa. For the former we identified duplication of methods, and for the latter, addition of methods and increased temporal variation rather than effort would improve completeness. Within a taxon, sampling 75% of species present required, on average, about 784 individuals. When considering the local richness, 75% completeness required about 27 individuals per species, but these figures require validation in other areas. About 58 sites were required to achieve 75% sampling completeness, translating to about one site per 10 km2. The percentage of species sampled only in a particular month ranged between 4% and 46%, with greater temporal effects recorded for flying taxa than for epigaeic ones. The trend was similar for species unique to a particular year, with the most extreme case being 67% of the butterfly species sampled one year not previously recorded. We demonstrated and evaluated the feasibility of a simultaneous multi-taxon survey approach to produce data useful for conservation planning and monitoring. We strongly recommend a quantified approach for surveys and inventories, with details such as specific methods decided based on the biome sampled, and taxonomic expertise available for identification.
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Austral Ecology
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Grassland Society of Southern Africa

The Grassland Society of Southern Africa (GSSA) is involved and concerned with the science and practice of range and pasture management. This broad field involves primarily the use and conservation of natural resources. It encompasses applied fields such as livestock production, wildlife management, nature conservation, water catchment management and range and mine-dump rehabilitation. The disciplines include, amongst others, ecology, botany zoology, range and pasture science, animal science, soil science and genetics. This collection includes journal articles from the African Journal of Range and Forage Science as well as related articles and reports from throughout the Southern African region.