This study aims to investigate patterns and drivers of diversity across an elevation gradient.
An elevation gradient from sea level to almost 3400 m above sea level in the Maloti-Drakensberg Mountains provides an excellent opportunity to investigate the effects of climate on animal and plant diversity. The Sani Pass provides road access to the steepest part of this elevation gradient, and this region is where most of our effort has been invested. Ground dwelling arthropods (insects, spiders, millipedes) are sampled twice per year in eight 300 m elevation bands from 900 m to 3000 m. The focus of the study has been on ant diversity, but specimens of other groups, including spiders, wasps and beetles that have been sampled in pitfall traps have been shared with various collaborators. As the gradient provides an ideal means of examining the influence of climate on invasive species, several studies on alien plant diversity have been conducted.
An undergraduate field course is an important part of our activities in this area. Click here for more about this course.