Original Research - Special Collection: Granite catena ecosystem

Biotic and abiotic connections on a granitic catena: Framework for multidisciplinary research

Beanelri B. Janecke, Johan van Tol, Izak P.J. Smit, Andri C. van Aardt, Edward S. Riddell, Maitland T. Seaman, Wijnand J. Swart, Pieter J. du Preez, Pieter A.L. le Roux
Koedoe | Vol 62, No 2 | a1600 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/koedoe.v62i2.1600 | © 2020 Beanelri B. Janecke, Johan van Tol, Izak P.J. Smit, Andri C. van Aardt, Edward S. Riddell, Maitland T. Seaman, Wijnand J. Swart, Pieter J. du Preez, Pieter A.L. le Roux | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 01 October 2019 | Published: 29 October 2020

About the author(s)

Beanelri B. Janecke, Department of Animal, Wildlife and Grassland Sciences, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Johan van Tol, Department of Soil, Crop and Climate Sciences, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Izak P.J. Smit, South African National Parks, Scientific Services, Skukuza; Centre for African Ecology, School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg , South Africa
Andri C. van Aardt, Department of Plant Sciences, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Edward S. Riddell, South African National Parks, Conservation Management, Skukuza; Centre for Water Resources Research, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
Maitland T. Seaman, Centre for Environmental Management, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Wijnand J. Swart, Department of Plant Sciences, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Pieter J. du Preez, Department of Plant Sciences, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Pieter A.L. le Roux, Digital Soils Africa; Previously Institute for Groundwater Studies, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa


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Abstract

Local environmental gradients on a catenal scale create ecological patterns from the crest to the stream of the hillslope. Bottom-up drivers interact with top-down controls to give rise to these patterns. A multidisciplinary project was conducted to study the processes that govern functioning, structure and heterogeneity on a catena in a third-order catchment in the Southern Granite Supersite in the Kruger National Park. The project included abiotic components (e.g. groundwater-surface water interactions, soil chemical and physical properties) as well as biotic components (e.g. soil microbes, small aquatic organisms in ephemeral pools, plant communities, vegetation structure and mammal diversity). Each of these components was investigated in detail along the catenal gradient and reported on in separate articles in this special issue. The drought of 2015–2016 occurred during the sampling period of the study and information on the response of vegetation and mammals to the drought were included. In this article, a synthesis of findings from the separate components or disciplines is provided to highlight the interactive functioning and ecological patterns of the catena. These findings were then used to develop a framework for multidisciplinary studies in similar environments. The framework highlights the interactive relationships between various components of the ecosystem and the importance of a multidisciplinary approach.

Conservation implications: The findings of this study were used to develop a conceptual framework outlining how a range of biotic and abiotic patterns and processes interact along the catenal gradient. The framework highlights the importance of recognising these interactions in a multidisciplinary approach focused on one supersite.


Keywords

Climate; Hydrology; Interdisciplinary studies; Mammals and mud wallows; Trophic levels

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Crossref Citations

1. Mammal Species Richness at a Catena and Nearby Waterholes during a Drought, Kruger National Park, South Africa
Beanélri B. Janecke
Diversity  vol: 13  issue: 8  first page: 387  year: 2021  
doi: 10.3390/d13080387