Original Research

The value of urban and peri-urban conservation efforts within a global biodiversity hotspot

Lyle E. Ground, Rob Slotow, Jayanti Ray-Mukherjee
Bothalia | Vol 46, No 2 | a2106 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/abc.v46i2.2106 | © 2016 Lyle E. Ground, Rob Slotow, Jayanti Ray-Mukherjee | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 01 June 2016 | Published: 02 December 2016

About the author(s)

Lyle E. Ground, Environmental Planning and Climate Protection Department, eThekwini Municipality, Durban, South Africa and College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Rob Slotow, School of Life Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa and Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment, University College, London, United Kingdom
Jayanti Ray-Mukherjee, School of Liberal Studies, Azim Premji University, Bengaluru, India


Background: Systematic conservation planning (SCP) is a key tool in conservation prioritisation. It has recently been applied within the eThekwini Municipal Area (EMA), South Africa, a rapidly developing metro located within a biodiversity hotspot. Most vegetation types within this region are threatened, yet have received limited scientific attention.
Objectives: To assess forb biodiversity of coastal and near-coastal grasslands and contextualise potential drivers of species variation to the EMA context.
Method: We quantified forb species richness, frequency and species composition, determined the variation of these amongst plots and sites, and assessed which variables were responsible for this variation.
Results: Site forb species richness ranged from 33 to 84 species per site, with the most frequent species differing across the seven sites. Beta diversity was higher across than within sites. Distance to the closest traditional medicine market and site perimeter-to-area ratio were the greatest drivers of species richness, whilst altitude, aspect, mean temperature and rainfall seasonality were the main contributors to species composition patterns.
Conclusion: SCP can use key environmental and climatic categories to improve selection of grasslands to maximise both species richness and variation in species composition. A more fine-scale systematic conservation plan will, in turn, provide a more robust basis for development decisions. The outcomes illustrate the importance of urban and peri-urban conservation efforts, including fine-scale conservation planning, in contributing to regional, national conservation targets.


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Crossref Citations

1. Improving the management of threatened ecosystems in an urban biodiversity hotspot through the Durban Research Action Partnership
Mathieu Rouget, Sean O’Donoghue, Chantal Taylor, Debra Roberts, Rob Slotow
Bothalia, African Biodiversity & Conservation  vol: 46  issue: 2  year: 2016  
doi: 10.4102/abc.v46i2.2199