Herbivore distribution patterns mapped on SA Game Reserve

Mother elephant and baby

Herbivore populations must be managed to prevent habitat degradation

Data gathered on a South African game reserve shows the importance of terrain type for herbivores within the reserves and the accuracy of using line-transect sampling as opposed to aerial surveys to gather the data. The results will aid conservation planning on the reserves.

Private game reserves in South Africa are central to the maintenance and enhancement of its herbivore biodiversity. These reserves are (usually) fenced and as such require intensive land and livestock management to maximize their ‘game’ carrying capacity for wildlife tourism purposes.

At the same time reserve managers must manage the herbivore population so as to prevent habitat degradation from over-grazing and to utilise their dunging/feeding activities and patterns to maintain optimum nutrient conditions. Understanding animal habitat requirements can enable game reserve managers to predict animal distribution patterns and consequently their impact on vegetation.

Population distribution

Estimating game distribution is therefore an important part of game reserve management. One method for monitoring large game stocks is via aerial surveys in which all visible game are counted.

An alternative method is to monitor game using line-transect sampling. Line transect sampling has been a popular and widely used technique for estimating abundance of biological populations in a variety of habitats and situations. Animals can be surveyed from game vehicles and, provided that habitat is recorded along with each animal sighting, population density models can be corrected for variation in detectability according to habitat type.

The field work related to this study took place in Welgevonden Game Reserve. The reserve is situated in the Waterberg plateau in the Limpopo Province of South Africa where it forms part of the Waterberg Biosphere Reserve declared in 2001 by UNESCO, which in its entirety covers in excess of 14,500km2.

During this study, large mammal populations on the reserve were monitored from game vehicles using distance sampling along six 10km line transects that coincide with the reserve road network. The transect lines in total incorporated all of the seven different terrain types previously identified as present on the reserve.

Researchers travelled the transect lines and road systems and recorded their encounters with herbivores in accordance with accepted protocols. Each time an animal was seen, the species was identified, aged and sexed, the number of individuals recorded, the distance along the transect line they were encountered and the Geographical Positioning System (GPS) location of the animal(s). The large mammal species commonly encountered during surveys were elephant, white rhino, blue wildebeest, Burchell’s zebra, giraffe, impala, warthog, kudu, waterbuck and red hartebeest and their distribution forms the basis of all subsequent analysis.

Comparing estimates

GPS and terrain data obtained from the transect surveys were combined with existing GIS maps of the reserve to investigate ranging and habitat use of the species encountered. Population estimates were then formulated for each species using DISTANCE© V.6.0, a software programme which estimates density and abundance from transect data.

Most species positively selected plains except impala and warthog

These data were added to monthly game counts that incorporated the entire road network in the reserve. In addition annual game count data were collected via helicopter and these data were compared against the estimates obtained from the game transects.

Habitat preferences

Data from the ten herbivore species were used to determine habitat preferences with respect to terrain class. We used Jacobs’ (1974) modification of the Ivlev selection index to determine significant preference and avoidance for each terrain class. This index measures numbers of individuals of a species selecting each terrain class relative to the availability of the terrain class in the reserve. All species avoided crest summits and hill slopes as indicated by the negative Ivlev index. All species for which significance could be assessed, prefer ‘old land’ (land previously in agricultural production) and plateau, with white rhino showing a particularly strong preference for old land.

Most species positively selected plains except impala and warthog, whilst blue wildebeest, red hartebeest and white rhino showed notable preferences for this terrain type. With the exception of impala, most species prefer riparian areas, with elephant showing an extremely strong preference for this terrain type. Finally most species, except wildebeest, prefer valley bottom. These selection and avoidance relationships may reflect grazing quality, perhaps mediated by drainage, and predation risk.

Herbivore abundance estimates calculated from distance sampling were compared to abundance estimates calculated from aerial game counts. In almost all cases the aerial count estimate falls within the errors of the distance estimate. These initial results indicate that if DISTANCE© estimates continue to compare satisfactorily against aerial census data, the frequency of these aerial census could be decreased, and perhaps discontinued.

Vehicle-based transects therefore not only create significant cost savings, but also provide more accurate spatial data, which increases the application of data in other areas of conservation planning on the reserve.

Written by

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook Email

30 Responses to “Herbivore distribution patterns mapped on SA Game Reserve”

  1. Hi there, i read your blog from time to time and i own a similar oone and i
    wass just wondering if you get a lot of spam comments?
    If so how do youu stop it, any plugin or anything you can recommend?

    I get so much lately it’s driving me insane so
    any help is very much appreciated.

    Also visit my weblog … asme Y14.5

  2. Now I am ready to do my breakfast, later than having my breakfast coming
    over again to read other news.

    my web-site best ellipticals 2015

  3. I’m now not certain where you’re getting your information, but good topic.
    I needs to spend some time studying more or understanding more.
    Thank you for wonderful info I was searching for this information for my mission.

    Stop by my website; best Led TV 2015 (handmadeheaven.biz)

  4. Wow, amazing blog format! How lengthy have you been running a blog for?
    you made blogging look easy. The entire glance of your website is fantastic, as well as the content material!

    Here is my webpage – best 3d blu ray player
    2015 – bestblurayplayers2014.com,

  5. Excellent beat ! I would like to apprentice while you amend your site, how can i subscribe for a blog website?
    The account helped me a acceptable deal. I had been tiny bit acquainted of this your
    broadcast offered bright clear concept

    My blog :: trademark registration in dubai

  6. The greater we dwell regarding health or the health benefits v2 cigs
    e-cigarette beginner kit also offers excellent buyer
    services.

    Look into my web blog; VMR Products

  7. Hi to every one, it’s in fact a nice for me to
    visit this site, it includes helpful Information.

    Feel free to surf to my web site … best coffee makers 2015 (Winston)

  8. It’s awesome to pay a visit this website and reading the views
    of all mates concerning this article, while I am also zealous of getting know-how.

    Feel free to surf to my website – document clearing dubai

  9. I think that everything published was very logical.
    But, consider this, suppose you added a little content?
    I ain’t suggesting your content is not solid, however suppose you added a title that
    makes people desire more? I mean Herbivore distribution patterns mapped on SA Game Reserve
    | Biodiversity Science is kinda vanilla. You could look at Yahoo’s
    home page and watch how they create news headlines to get viewers interested.
    You might add a related video or a related pic or two to get
    people interested about everything’ve got to say.

    Just my opinion, it might make your posts a little bit more interesting.

    my weblog … Best mirrorless camera 2015, Marsha,

  10. Because the admin of this website is working,
    no uncertainty very quickly it will be renowned, due to
    its feature contents.

    Here is my website: cheap shoes for running of 2015

  11. Greetings! I’ve been following your weblog for
    some time now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Atascocita Texas!
    Just wanted to say keep up the good job!

    Look into my homepage; best earbuds 2015 (lapinatag.com)

  12. Wonderful beat ! I wish to apprentice while you amend your site, how can i subscribe for a blog website?
    The account aided me a acceptable deal. I had been tiny bit acquainted of
    this your broadcast offered bright clear idea

    Feel free to visit my weblog: V 2 MEDIA & ADVERTISING

  13. Now I am going away to do my breakfast, once having my breakfast coming
    yet again to read further news.

    Also visit my weblog – insulating a crawl space

  14. Thanks for some other great post. Where else may anybody get
    that type of info in such an ideal method of writing?
    I have a presentation next week, and I’m at the search for such info.

    Take a look at my weblog zaatar Mix

  15. Thanks for finally talking about > Herbivore distribution patterns mapped on SA Game Reserve | Biodiversity
    Science < Loved it!

  16. After looking into a number of the blog posts on your
    web page, I honestly appreciate your technique of writing a
    blog. I book-marked it to my bookmark webpage list
    and will be checking back soon. Please check out my
    website too and let me know what you think.

  17. Јe terminerai Ԁe regarder tout cela demain

    my blog ƿpost :: Pute sexy

  18. C’est un vrai plɑisir de parcourir ce ƅlog

    my рage vieille xxx

  19. Hi to every body, it’s my first visit of this webpage; this weblog includes remarkable and
    truly fine stuff designed for visitors.

  20. Good post. I learn something new and challenging on websites I stumbleupon every day.
    It’s always helpful to read content from other writers and use something from their
    sites.

  21. Heya i’m for the first time here. I came across this
    board and I in finding It truly useful & it
    helped me out a lot. I am hoping to give one thing again and help others such as you helped me.

  22. It’s awesome to pay a visit this web site and reading the views of all
    colleagues concerning this piece of writing, while I am
    also eager of getting knowledge.

    Also visit my website; private proxy list

  23. Very good post! We will be linking to this great post on our website.
    Keep up the good writing.

  24. Hi there, yup this post is really good and I have learned lot of things from it
    concerning blogging. thanks.

  25. Paragraph writing is also a excitement, if you be acquainted with then you
    can write or else it is complex to write.

  26. great issues altogether, you simply gained a brand
    new reader. What could you recommend in regards to your submit that you simply made
    some days ago? Any sure?

  27. I love what you guys are usually up too. This kind of clever
    work and reporting! Keep up the very good works guys I’ve incorporated you guys
    to blogroll.

  28. Too many women in this world have their hesitations
    and reservations in the bedroom and that is a problem. There’s nothing more attractive for a guy than a submissive woman ready to do
    anything for you. When it comes to pure orgasmic bliss, for many women nothing comes
    close to the amount of sexual pleasure they enjoy when experiencing a clitoral
    orgasm.

  29. Stipulations of their endless conniving, they keep unscrupulously shaped the wrong image for the world at large.
    In some cases male-to-female transgendered people will
    undergo hormone replacement therapy and a breast implant to help with their life as a woman. There are several occasions when they need the company of a
    presentable man for various events and that is where male escorts come in.

    my blog post live shemales

  30. Great blog! Is ƴour theme custom made or did you download it from
    somewhere? A theme like yours with a few simple aɗjustements would really make my blog stand օut.
    Please let me know where you got your theme. Many thanks

Leave a Reply