Essay - Special Collection: Granite catena ecosystem

Integrating multi-scaled and multidisciplinary studies: A critical reflection on the Kruger National Park research supersites

Izak P.J. Smit
Koedoe | Vol 62, No 2 | a1586 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/koedoe.v62i2.1586 | © 2020 Izak P.J. Smit | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 September 2019 | Published: 29 October 2020

About the author(s)

Izak P.J. Smit, Scientific Services, South African National Parks, Skukuza; Centre for African Ecology, School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa


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Abstract

The Kruger National Park (KNP) research supersites were designed to encourage place-based research in order to geographically focus research activities on known and well described study sites as opposed to ad hoc site selection practiced previously. This was done by (i) delineating sites using a clear rationale, (ii) providing basic meta-data for these sites, and (iii) actively encouraging scientists to conduct research on these sites and share data freely. The underlying concept was that geographically focused research would facilitate data and knowledge exchanges and lead to long-term, multi-scaled and cross-disciplinary studies at these data-rich sites, facilitating an integrated and collectively developed understanding that would be hard to achieve otherwise.

This essay acts as a short-term reflection on the KNP supersites and an introductory text for the special issue focusing on the outcomes from a multi-disciplinary study conducted on the southern granitic supersite. It starts off by briefly introducing the supersite concept, followed by a reflection on the achievements and challenges towards achieving the main objectives of the supersites. In addition, and as part of the “data-begets-data” philosophy underlying the supersites (i.e positive feedback of place-based data attracting further research and hence collection of further data), updated lists of references and available datasets are provided.

Conservation implications: This paper highlights the successes and challenges of geographically focusing research in the KNP to the research supersites in order to facilitate integrative and multi-scaled learning in savanna systems. It also provides updated lists of references and available datasets to further stimulate research at these sites.


Keywords

Long-term ecological research sites (LTERS); Monitoring; Multidisciplinary studies; Integrative studies; Research supersites

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Crossref Citations

1. Connections between abiotic and biotic components of a granite catena ecosystem in Kruger National Park
Beanelri B. Janecke, Johan van Tol
KOEDOE - African Protected Area Conservation and Science  vol: 62  issue: 2  year: 2020  
doi: 10.4102/koedoe.v62i2.1638