Predicting reptile species distributions and biogeographic patterns within Kruger National Park
Barends, Jody Michael
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Knowledge of global reptile ecology is limited and there remains much to understand in terms of detailed reptile species information, including that of their distributions. In South Africa, despite being one of SANParks best-studied reserves, surprisingly little is known about the distributions and spatial ecology of reptiles within Kruger National Park (KNP). Management within KNP follows a strategic adaptive management strategy which monitors the statuses of animals using species or group specific indicators. Indicators are given predetermined upper and lower ranges of acceptable fluctuation before actions are taken. These ranges are referred to as thresholds of potential concern (TPCs), and for reptiles these are based on changes to their distributions across the landscape of KNP. An apparent lack of high-quality reptile distribution data inhibits the effective monitoring of the statuses of these animals within KNP, which in turn limits management and conservation options. In this study, I use several methods to quantify available reptile occurrence data which formed the foundations for predicting the distributions of these species across KNP by means of species distribution modelling, with a view to gaining novel insight into reptile assemblage structure across the landscape of KNP.