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International Journal of Biodiversity
Volume 2013, Article ID 298968, 12 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/298968
Research Article

Efficient Evaluation of Biodiversity Concerns in Protected Areas

1Savanna and Arid Research Unit, Conservation Services, South African National Parks, Private Bag X402, Skukuza 1350, South Africa
2School of Biological & Conservation Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, P/Bag X01, Scottsville, Pietermaritzburg 3209, South Africa
3Savanna and Arid Research Unit, Conservation Services, South African National Parks, P.O. Box 110040, Hadison Park, Kimberley, 8306, South Africa
4Applied Behavioural Ecology and Ecosystem Research Unit, UNISA, Private Bag X6, Florida 1717, South Africa

Received 4 March 2013; Revised 28 June 2013; Accepted 17 July 2013

Academic Editor: Pere Pons

Copyright © 2013 Sam Ferreira et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Monitoring is a vital component of keeping protected areas in desired states. Lack of robust designs, however, impedes efficient monitoring. We ask two questions—how does effort at a specific site as well as number of sites in a plant community influence richness, abundance, and diversity indicators. Large mammal herbivory biodiversity influences are a key concern for managers of Mokala National Park. We anticipated that changes in biodiversity indicators (vegetation, ants, and birds) associate with herbivore intensity of use of landscapes. We identified flat deep sandy plains and undulating shallow rocky hills as focal landscapes. Our focus was on finding optimized effort at survey sites as well as the number of sites. Monitoring to evaluate change in diversity and abundance needs far less effort than evaluating change in richness. Furthermore, given the variance at the landscape level, monitoring of species abundance and diversity allows easier detection with less effort and at shorter intervals between surveys than that required for richness. Even though a mechanisms-based approach directs monitoring, conservationists need to evaluate feasibility. In our case, measurement of richness is unlikely to detect herbivore effects. In general though, we have illustrated that focused monitoring designs can robustly evaluate conservation objectives.