A systematic conservation plan for threatened freshwater wetlanddependent waterbirds across South Africa
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Freshwater ecosystems are valuable to all components of biodiversity communities. Globally, these ecosystems are threatened by human activity and as a consequence, many vertebrates, including waterbirds, have become threatened. Wetlands are one of the most productive ecosystem types in the world. Yet, despite this, many protected area networks around the world fail to include this ecosystem type in their protected area networks. On a national scale, in South Africa, wetland loss and deteriorating wetland habitat quality continues to restrict and reduce the range of wetland waterbirds. For this thesis, Maximum Entropy (MaxEnt) species distribution modelling was used to identify additional areas of possible waterbird occurrence. The MaxEnt results noted that waterbirds rely on a combination of these environmental variables for their distribution ecology in their wetland habitat, with vegetation and humidity variables having the highest predictive powers. These would be considered important predictor variables for the distribution ecology of these waterbirds.