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Marine biodiversity in South Africa: an evaluation of current states of knowledge.

Griffiths CL, Robinson TB, Lange L, Mead A - PLoS ONE (2010)

Bottom Line: Compared with many other developing countries, South Africa has a well-conserved coastline, 23% of which is under formal protection, however deeper waters are almost entirely excluded from conservation areas.Marine pollution is confined mainly to the densely populated KwaZulu-Natal coast and the urban centers of Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.Over 120 introduced or cryptogenic marine species have been recorded, but most of these are confined to the few harbors and sheltered sites along the coast.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Zoology Department, Marine Biology Research Centre, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch, South Africa. ebernal@umich.edu

ABSTRACT
Continental South Africa has a coastline of some 3,650 km and an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of just over 1 million km(2). Waters in the EEZ extend to a depth of 5,700 m, with more than 65% deeper than 2,000 m. Despite its status as a developing nation, South Africa has a relatively strong history of marine taxonomic research and maintains comprehensive and well-curated museum collections totaling over 291,000 records. Over 3 million locality records from more than 23,000 species have been lodged in the regional AfrOBIS (African Ocean Biogeographic Information System) data center (which stores data from a wider African region). A large number of regional guides to the marine fauna and flora are also available and are listed. The currently recorded marine biota of South Africa numbers at least 12,914 species, although many taxa, particularly those of small body size, remain poorly documented. The coastal zone is relatively well sampled with some 2,500 samples of benthic invertebrate communities have been taken by grab, dredge, or trawl. Almost none of these samples, however, were collected after 1980, and over 99% of existing samples are from depths shallower than 1,000 m--indeed 83% are from less than 100 m. The abyssal zone thus remains almost completely unexplored. South Africa has a fairly large industrial fishing industry, of which the largest fisheries are the pelagic (pilchard and anchovy) and demersal (hake) sectors, both focused on the west and south coasts. The east coast has fewer, smaller commercial fisheries, but a high coastal population density, resulting in intense exploitation of inshore resources by recreational and subsistence fishers, and this has resulted in the overexploitation of many coastal fish and invertebrate stocks. South Africa has a small aquaculture industry rearing mussels, oysters, prawns, and abalone-the latter two in land-based facilities. Compared with many other developing countries, South Africa has a well-conserved coastline, 23% of which is under formal protection, however deeper waters are almost entirely excluded from conservation areas. Marine pollution is confined mainly to the densely populated KwaZulu-Natal coast and the urban centers of Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. Over 120 introduced or cryptogenic marine species have been recorded, but most of these are confined to the few harbors and sheltered sites along the coast.

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Regional distribution of benthic invertebrate samples collected in South African waters.Dredge, grab, and trawl samples are represented in blue, green, and yellow, respectively.
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pone-0012008-g007: Regional distribution of benthic invertebrate samples collected in South African waters.Dredge, grab, and trawl samples are represented in blue, green, and yellow, respectively.

Mentions: By contrast, biodiversity over the greater part of the offshore continental shelf around South Africa is less well documented [39]. An exception is the ichthyofauna, which has been well studied, largely as a result of regular stock assessment surveys undertaken in support of the region's major demersal, pelagic, and line-fish fisheries. Current knowledge of benthic invertebrate diversity and biogeography is based on some 1,460 dredge, 602 grab, and 442 trawl samples, which have been analyzed for community structure. Many more samples exist in museum collections, but the majority of these samples originate from directed collections of individual species or taxa, rather than collections that examine the composition of the entire community. Some of the early samples originate from international expeditions of the late 1800s and early 1900s, such as the Challenger, Valdivia, and Gauss, but the vast majority of samples were collected during the University of Cape Town Ecological Survey, which took place from the 1940s to early 1980s. Virtually no benthic invertebrate surveys have been undertaken since that time, as shown in a plot of the temporal sequence of sample collection (Figure 5). The majority of benthic samples are from the west coast (Figure 6), where several inshore sites have been particularly well sampled, notably Lambert's Bay, St. Helena Bay, Saldanha Bay/Langebaan Lagoon, Table Bay, and False Bay. The south coast shelf is also moderately well sampled, while KwaZulu-Natal has by far the least number of samples. Most of the samples on both the west and south coasts were collected by dredging, while trawling was the dominant collection method utilized off the east coast (Figure 7).


Marine biodiversity in South Africa: an evaluation of current states of knowledge.

Griffiths CL, Robinson TB, Lange L, Mead A - PLoS ONE (2010)

Regional distribution of benthic invertebrate samples collected in South African waters.Dredge, grab, and trawl samples are represented in blue, green, and yellow, respectively.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC2914023&req=5

pone-0012008-g007: Regional distribution of benthic invertebrate samples collected in South African waters.Dredge, grab, and trawl samples are represented in blue, green, and yellow, respectively.
Mentions: By contrast, biodiversity over the greater part of the offshore continental shelf around South Africa is less well documented [39]. An exception is the ichthyofauna, which has been well studied, largely as a result of regular stock assessment surveys undertaken in support of the region's major demersal, pelagic, and line-fish fisheries. Current knowledge of benthic invertebrate diversity and biogeography is based on some 1,460 dredge, 602 grab, and 442 trawl samples, which have been analyzed for community structure. Many more samples exist in museum collections, but the majority of these samples originate from directed collections of individual species or taxa, rather than collections that examine the composition of the entire community. Some of the early samples originate from international expeditions of the late 1800s and early 1900s, such as the Challenger, Valdivia, and Gauss, but the vast majority of samples were collected during the University of Cape Town Ecological Survey, which took place from the 1940s to early 1980s. Virtually no benthic invertebrate surveys have been undertaken since that time, as shown in a plot of the temporal sequence of sample collection (Figure 5). The majority of benthic samples are from the west coast (Figure 6), where several inshore sites have been particularly well sampled, notably Lambert's Bay, St. Helena Bay, Saldanha Bay/Langebaan Lagoon, Table Bay, and False Bay. The south coast shelf is also moderately well sampled, while KwaZulu-Natal has by far the least number of samples. Most of the samples on both the west and south coasts were collected by dredging, while trawling was the dominant collection method utilized off the east coast (Figure 7).

Bottom Line: Compared with many other developing countries, South Africa has a well-conserved coastline, 23% of which is under formal protection, however deeper waters are almost entirely excluded from conservation areas.Marine pollution is confined mainly to the densely populated KwaZulu-Natal coast and the urban centers of Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.Over 120 introduced or cryptogenic marine species have been recorded, but most of these are confined to the few harbors and sheltered sites along the coast.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Zoology Department, Marine Biology Research Centre, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch, South Africa. ebernal@umich.edu

ABSTRACT
Continental South Africa has a coastline of some 3,650 km and an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of just over 1 million km(2). Waters in the EEZ extend to a depth of 5,700 m, with more than 65% deeper than 2,000 m. Despite its status as a developing nation, South Africa has a relatively strong history of marine taxonomic research and maintains comprehensive and well-curated museum collections totaling over 291,000 records. Over 3 million locality records from more than 23,000 species have been lodged in the regional AfrOBIS (African Ocean Biogeographic Information System) data center (which stores data from a wider African region). A large number of regional guides to the marine fauna and flora are also available and are listed. The currently recorded marine biota of South Africa numbers at least 12,914 species, although many taxa, particularly those of small body size, remain poorly documented. The coastal zone is relatively well sampled with some 2,500 samples of benthic invertebrate communities have been taken by grab, dredge, or trawl. Almost none of these samples, however, were collected after 1980, and over 99% of existing samples are from depths shallower than 1,000 m--indeed 83% are from less than 100 m. The abyssal zone thus remains almost completely unexplored. South Africa has a fairly large industrial fishing industry, of which the largest fisheries are the pelagic (pilchard and anchovy) and demersal (hake) sectors, both focused on the west and south coasts. The east coast has fewer, smaller commercial fisheries, but a high coastal population density, resulting in intense exploitation of inshore resources by recreational and subsistence fishers, and this has resulted in the overexploitation of many coastal fish and invertebrate stocks. South Africa has a small aquaculture industry rearing mussels, oysters, prawns, and abalone-the latter two in land-based facilities. Compared with many other developing countries, South Africa has a well-conserved coastline, 23% of which is under formal protection, however deeper waters are almost entirely excluded from conservation areas. Marine pollution is confined mainly to the densely populated KwaZulu-Natal coast and the urban centers of Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. Over 120 introduced or cryptogenic marine species have been recorded, but most of these are confined to the few harbors and sheltered sites along the coast.

Show MeSH