The response of some families of ground-dwelling beetles to a landscape mosaic in the Soutpansberg Mountains
Schoeman, Colin Stefan
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Various ground-dwelling invertebrates respond differently to changes in the structure of the landscape. Implementation of a mechanistic approach to landscape ecology is essential to deriving generalizations about how spatial heterogeneity influences ecological system. In the study key questions are asked such as, what is the biodiversity of the area? And what are the threats to biodiversity in the area? We aimed to investigate the response of ground-dwelling insects assemblages to Eucalyptus (Bluegum) plantations and Avocado orchards in the western Soutpansberg. We also aimed to develop strategies to maintain, manage and possibly restore the degraded landscapes in the Soutpansberg Mountain using invertebrates as surrogate species to monitor these changes. The study area was Bluegumspoort, the Soutpansberg Limpopo Province, South Africa. Four sites representative of the landscape mosaic where located for the study. The first site located was an Avocado orchard, the second site a Bluegum plantation, third site located was a pristine savanna mist belt and the fourth site a thicket located on Lokovhela. Hand collecting, observations and pitfalls where used to trap and preserve ground-dwelling darkling beetles, (Tenebrionidae), dung beetles (Scarabaeidae), ground beetles (Carabidae) and snout beetles ( Curculionidae) at alternating stretches of diurnal and nocturnal sampling. Tenebrionidae constitute the greatest species richness followed by the Scarabaeidae.