oa African Zoology - Faunal changes along a vegetation gradient in the Alexandria coastal dunefield, South Africa

Volume 30, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1562-7020
  • E-ISSN: 2224-073X



Coastal dunes are distinguished by their border with the sea and the resultant abiotic and vegetation gradients perpendicular to the shore. This study, conducted in the Alexandria dunefield, tested the prediction that faunal community changes along a dunefield gradient reflect successional changes in vegetation structure. Three sites at increasing distances from the shore were examined: a vegetated dune slack, a bushpocket and dune thicket. Vegetation complexity increased inland, although the slack and pocket were similar. Arthropod and small mammal richness and diversity were highest in the thicket and lower, but similar, in the slack and bushpocket. Avifaunal species richness increased away from the sea. The results support the hypothesis of faunal response to vegetation structure changes.

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