Title page for ETD etd-10192011-133622

Document Type Doctoral Thesis
Author Tshikae, Balatlhane Power
URN etd-10192011-133622
Document Title Local and regional factors influencing dung beetle assemblage structure across an environmental gradient in Botswana
Degree PhD
Department Zoology and Entomology
Advisor Name Title
Dr A L V Davis Co-Supervisor
Prof C H Scholtz Supervisor
  • Acacia-Baikiaea
  • beetles
  • biogeographical patterns
  • Botswana
  • carrion
  • dung association
  • ecotone
  • environmental gradient
  • Kalahari-basin
  • local factors
  • regional factors
  • Scarabaeinae
  • xeric savanna
Date 2011-09-09
Availability unrestricted
The taxonomic composition, structure, and diversity of current local species assemblages results from an interacting complex of historical, regional ecological and local ecological factors. Structural differences between such current species assemblages are primarily determined by changing ecological conditions across spatial gradients. These conditions may change abruptly or they may represent a gradual divergence. Across the Botswana Kalahari basin there is a gradual northeast-southwest aridity and dung type gradient, which was demonstrated to strongly influence dung beetle assemblage structure at six study sites from Chobe National Park to the Central Kalahari Reserve to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park using carrion and four dung types as bait (pig, elephant, cattle, sheep). Regional patterns were primarily influenced by climate (rainfall) while dung type mainly showed a local influence on patterns of variation. Four distinct biogeographical groups were defined for the study region comprising widespread, northeast/widespread, northeast, and arid southwest Kalahari-centred species. Biogeographical diversity was higher in the more mesic NE than the arid SW but varied somewhat between bait types. In the SW, Kalahari endemics dominated all bait types. In general, abundance and species richness declined along the aridity gradient although the pattern was uneven due to low numbers in the north of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. Species showed high turnover (beta diversity), particularly between the moister NE and the Kalahari/Savanna ecotone. Hierarchical Analysis of Oblique Factors showed statistically distinct separation between assemblage structure at the six study sites and that the proportion of mesic NE shared influence on assemblage composition declined towards the SW where there was an increase in Kalahari endemics. Similarly the proportion of arid SW shared influence declined towards the NE. Plotting these results onto a map showed that the point of intersection between shared NE or SW influence lay very close to the ecotone between SW (Kalahari Xeric Savanna) and NE-centred ecoregions (Acacia-Baikiaea Savanna) defined for the area by Olson et al. (2001). In terms of dung type diversity, increasing aridity across the Kalahari represents a gradient of diminishing resources with the loss of large dung types to the SW and increasing dominance of dung pellets. Several different patterns of response were shown using different methods. Four principal patterns of bait type association were indicated by one method. Another method showed that, rather than diminishing numbers of competing species leading to widening niche widths to the SW, niche widths were narrowest at the Kalahari / mesic Savanna ecotone. Using several other multivariate techniques, three different patterns of dung type resource partitioning were demonstrated that paralleled the aridity gradient, one common to the NE and two to the SW. The historical, regional and local ecological factors influencing these patterns of dung beetle assemblage structure are discussed as well as implications and recommendations for conservation.

2011 University of Pretoria. All rights reserved. The copyright in this work vests in the University of Pretoria. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the University of Pretoria.

Please cite as follows:

Tshikae, BP 2011, Local and regional factors influencing dung beetle assemblage structure across an environmental gradient in Botswana, PhD thesis, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-10192011-133622 / >


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