Spatial congruence of ecological transition at the regional scale in South Africa

Van Rensburg, B J
Koleff, P
Gaston, K J
Chown, S L
Journal of Biogeography
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Aim To determine whether patterns of avian species turnover reflect either biome or climate transitions at a regional scale, and whether anthropogenic landscape transformation affects those patterns. Location South Africa and Lesotho. Methods Biome and land transformation data were used to identify sets of transition areas, and avian species occurrence data were used to measure species turnover rates (?-diversity). Spatial congruence between areas of biome transition, areas of high vegetation heterogeneity, high climatic heterogeneity, and high ?-diversity was assessed using random draw techniques. Spatial overlap in anthropogenically transformed areas, areas of high climatic heterogeneity and high ?-diversity areas was also assessed. Results Biome transition areas had greater vegetation heterogeneity, climatic heterogeneity, and ?-diversity than expected by chance. For the land transformation transition areas, this was only true for land transformation heterogeneity values and for one of the ?-diversity measures. Avian presence/absence data clearly separated the biome types but not the land transformation types. Main conclusions Biome edges have elevated climatic and vegetation heterogeneity. More importantly, elevated ?-diversity in the avifauna is clearly reflected in the heterogeneous biome transition areas. Thus, there is spatial congruence in biome transition areas (identified on vegetation and climatic grounds) and avian turnover patterns. However, there is no congruence between avian turnover and land transformation transition areas. This suggests that biogeographical patterns can be recovered using modern data despite landscape transformation.
Name of Journal: 
Journal of Biogeography
Resource Type: 
Document Type: 
Journal Issue/Article
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.