Full Length Research Paper
The soil-surface dwelling invertebrate assemblage of four sites (habitat patches) in Luchaba Nature Reserve was assessed using pitfall traps. A total of 335 specimens in three phyla (Arthropoda, Annelida and Mollusca) were sampled. Of the nine arthropod orders recorded, four were identified to seven families and ten species while five orders and two phyla (Annelida and Mollusca) were separated into 15 morphospecies. The eucalypt site supported fewer taxa compared to indigenous acacia and grassland patches while the mixed alien patch attracted the highest numbers of invertebrate families, species and individuals. Although species composition across sites was not significantly different (P>0.05), specimen counts showed significant differences (P<0.05). The implications of these preliminary results suggest that habitat-patch level management for conserving action in the short term should consider eradicating the species-poor eucalypt stands from the reserve while replacing all alien plants in the reserve area with native flora in the medium to long term. Furthermore, widespread/abundant species that occurred in all four sites e.g. Crematogaster sp, Pardosa crassipalpis and Pheidole sp. and habitat-restricted taxa can be used as potential bio-indicators for assessing the conservation value of habitat patches in Luchaba Nature Reserve and other protected areas of the King Sabata Dalindyebo Municipality.
Key words: Soil-surface dwelling invertebrates, nature reserve, indigenous plants, alien invasive plants.
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