Biodiversity baselines: Tracking insects in Kruger National Park with DNA barcodesA video abstract for the Kruger Malaise Program publication
March 24, 2021
By Michelle Lynn D’Souza
One year, 25 Malaise traps, and the dedication of numerous park rangers and staff have led to valuable insights and resources for Kruger National Park, South Africa.
This video abstract highlights work that involved the analysis of 367,743 insect specimens collected at 25 sites in Kruger National Park (KNP) in South Africa and it revealed 19,730 species, a count equal to 43% of the known insect diversity in Southern Africa. Species assemblages were differentiated between ecoregions and were structured most strongly by variation in rainfall. These efforts have delivered the baseline data needed to assess future change—comprehensive, spatially and seasonally explicit data on insect biodiversity in KNP.
The next steps involve extending the analysis to other national parks in South Africa, and ultimately, to the world’s 4000 national parks. The aim is to obtain the baseline data required to assess insect communities and usher in the global biomonitoring systems needed to aid scientists and citizens in forecasting changes in biodiversity.
I and the co-authors of the publication—Michelle van der Bank, Zandisile Shongwe, Ryan D. Rattray, Ross Stewart, Johandré van Rooyen, Danny Govender, and Paul D. N. Hebert—wish to acknowledge the contributions of staff and rangers in Kruger National Park for making the collections. We also thank the staff at South African National Parks for providing research permits and access to metadata as well as logistic support. We thank staff and students at the African Centre for DNA Barcoding in Johannesburg and at the Centre for Biodiversity Genomics in Guelph for aid in collecting, shipping, sorting, sequencing, and imaging specimens along with all funding sources.
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