Short Communication

Reconnaissance of epigeal ants at the degraded and control sites of Mountain Zebra and Mokala National Parks

Hendrik Sithole, Nolubabalo Tantsi, Hugo Bezuidenhout, Thinandavha C. Munyai, Lufuno Munyai
Koedoe | Vol 62, No 1 | a1542 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/koedoe.v62i1.1542 | © 2020 Hendrik Sithole, Nolubabalo Tantsi, Hugo Bezuidenhout, Thinandavha C. Munyai, Lufuno Munyai | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 03 May 2018 | Published: 25 May 2020

About the author(s)

Hendrik Sithole, Scientific Services, South African National Parks, Hadison Park, Kimberley, South Africa; and, School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Nolubabalo Tantsi, Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Provincial Government of South Africa, Johannesburg, South Africa
Hugo Bezuidenhout, Scientific Services, South African National Parks, Hadison Park, Kimberley, South Africa; and, Applied Behavioural Ecology and Ecosystem Research Unit, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa
Thinandavha C. Munyai, School of Life Science, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Lufuno Munyai, Scientific Services, South African National Parks, Hadison Park, Kimberley, South Africa


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Abstract

South African National Parks (SANParks) is implementing rehabilitation projects in parks where acquired lands have degrees of degradation. Such parks need to have empirical data to determine the degree of degradation and the success of the projects. We sampled epigeal ants at degraded and control sites in Mountain Zebra and Mokala National Parks to acquire the empirical data. With the data, our main aims were to: 1) determine the impact of degradation on the ant community; 2) determine if the rehabilitation period influences the difference between the degraded and control sites; and, 3) identify the degradation that affected the ant community the most. The majority of the degraded sites had lower abundance, species richness, Shannon-Wiener Diversity, common- and exclusive-species than their respective control sites. All the degraded sites had a lower abundance of ants compared to their respective controls. The majority of the degraded sites had lower species richness, higher Shannon-Weiner Diversity Index and higher ant species dominance than their respective controls. The rehabilitation periods differently influenced the difference between the degraded and control sites. Degraded sites that had undergone longer rehabilitation times had lower dissimilarity to their respective controls, while a degraded site with shorter rehabilitation period was very different to its control. Ploughing appears to have longer lasting degradation-impact on ant communities than herbicides applications. A site with ploughing degradation was very dissimilar to its control while sites with chemical degradation had lower disparities to their respective controls. Different degradation activities, therefor, affect ant recovery differently.

Conservation implications: Attention should be paid to the type of degradations that are at the lands identified for expanding the conservation areas. Some of these degradations seem persistent and slow to rehabilitate. Variety of organisms (such as ants in this case) should be included when determining the degradation status of a conservation land.


Keywords

disparity; indicator species; rehabilitation age; degradation method; conservation; ecology

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