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Nanette van Staden

MSc candidate at North West University, Potchefstroom Supervisors: Dr Frances Siebert (NWU), Prof. Stefan Siebert (NWU) and Dr Tony Swemmer (SAEON Ndlovu)

Herbaceous species diversity, redundancy and resilience of Mopaneveld across different land-uses.

Description: Biodiversity maintains ecosystem functioning. However, transformation of natural vegetation (disturbance) reduces diversity and therefore threatens ecosystem function. Plant species diversity is often considered a proxy for conservation efforts, but generally fails to quantify disturbance effects on ecosystem function. Functional diversity is more sensitive to environmental change and therefore considered a more appropriate measure to determine disturbance effects on ecosystem function and hence on ecosystem resilience. Recent studies on ecosystem resilience indicated that changes related to disturbances are better explained by the response at the level of functional groups than at species level. The Phalaborwa-Timbavati Mopaneveld, a semi-arid savanna type in South Africa, is exposed to various land-uses and thus provides the opportunity to test disturbance effects across five land-uses with a complementary approach, i.e. using species and functional diversity as a measure of ecosystem resilience. My study therefore aims to determine whether plant diversity buffers the effect of disturbances on ecosystem functioning. It is envisaged that this study will 1) provide better insights into the effects of anthropogenic disturbances at species and functional level, and 2) aid in sustainable management and conservation of Mopaneveld biodiversity.


Nanette is a farm girl from Wolmaransstad with a passion for the environment, especially grass and forbs. In my free time she likes to chill with her best friends and family.

Nanette van Staden
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