Environmental Volunteer Opportunities | Wildlife Volunteer Opportunities

News from Lajuma Research Centre, Louis Trichardt (Makhado)

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We are currently updating our information about all the programmes in which students can participate. In the meantime below are some of the current projects and a list of 43 publications illustrating the wealth of research that has been based on or included Lajuma.

Behavioural ecology of Crested Guinea-fowl (Guttera edouardi).

Targeting a well-habituated population of this poorly-researched forest specialist, this long-term project investigates their biology and ecology including diet, ranging and social behaviour. A behavioural catalogue has been generated and a flock are to be captured and ringed to enable individual identification.

Forest biodiversity conservation.

The focus is on various aspects of forest biodiversity, ecology and threats within the Lajuma forests and subsequently across forests in the Soutpansberg, many in the east being highly degraded through anthropogenic disturbances. Initial work on the relatively pristine forests of Lajuma provides a baseline for comparison. Mammal diversity and densities, how these change according to forest structure and the role they play in seed dispersal and thus forest maintenance are key research areas and results inform regional conservation planning.

The project involves collecting data on tracks, droppings, feeding signs, actual sightings and vocalisations of mammals along transects, monitored directly and also with cameras. Mammal seed dispersal involves transect monitoring of fruiting trees and identification, quantification and determination of viability (germination experiments) of seeds collected from droppings, the aim being to compare the role different mammal species play in forest plant seed dispersal.

Samango monkey road bridges

The samango monkey (Cercopithecus albogularis) is South Africa's only exclusively forest dwelling primate and represents the southernmost extent of the range of arboreal guenons in Africa. Listed as vulnerable in the Red Data Book of the Mammals of South Africa and considered a rare species, the major direct threat they face in the Soutpansberg area is crossing provincial roads. The aim of the project is to design a canopy bridge suitable for installation at identified road crossing points. Researchers are currently testing basic designs and monkey preferences while recording their behaviour through focal sampling and camera traps. The next phase will see the construction of a prototype bridge at Lajuma and regional awareness campaigns.

Crowned Eagles

Guided by Dr. Steven Evans of Venda University the study aims to gain more information on territoriality, food habits, reproduction and population trends in Crowned Eagle (Stephanoaetus coronatus) populations in the Soutpansberg. It includes forest surveys, camera monitoring of nesting sites, behavioural observations and radio-telemetry.


Peter Taylor, Aluwani Nengovhela, Jabu Linden & Roderick Baxter. 2015.  Past, present, and future distribution of Afromontane rodents (Muridae: Otomys) reflect climate-change predicted biome changes. Mammalia.

Sara Emerson & Joel Brown. 2015. The influence of food chemistry on food-safety tradeoffs in samango monkeys. Journal of Mammalogy. http://jmammal.oxfordjournals.org/content/96/1/237

Birthe Linden, Jabu Linden, Frauke Fischer & Eduard Linsenmair. 2015. Seed dispersal by South Africa’s only forest dwelling guenon, the samango monkey (Cercopithecus mitis). African Journal of Wildlife Research. http://dx.doi.org/10.3957/056.045.0110

Stefan Foord, Vhuhwavho Gelebe & Lorenzo Prendini. 2015. Effects of aspect and altitude on scorpion diversity along an environmental gradient in the Soutpansberg, South Africa. Journal of Arid Environments. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140196314002018

Caswell Munyai & Stefan Foord. 2015. An inventory of epigeal ants of the western Soutpansberg Mountain Range, South Africa. Koedoe. http://dx.doi.org/10.4102/koedoe.v57i1.1244

Stefan Foord & Caswell Munyai. 2015. Temporal Patterns of Ant Diversity across a Mountain with Climatically Contrasting Aspects in the Tropics of Africa. PLOS ONE. http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0122035

Desiré Dalton, Birthe Linden, Kirsten Wimberger, Lisa Nupen, Adrian Tordiffe, Peter Taylor, Thabang Madisha & Antoinette Kotze. 2015. New insights into samango speciation in South Africa. PLOS ONE. http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0117

Caroline Howlett, Joanna Setchell, Russell Hill & Robert Barton. 2015. The 2D:4D digit ratio and social behaviour in wild female chacma baboons (Papio ursinus) in relation to dominance, aggression, interest in infants, affiliation and heritability. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00265-014-1817-5

Peter Taylor, Aubrey Munyai, Ian Gaigher & Rod Baxter. 2015. Afromontane small mammals do not follow the hump-shaped rule: altitudinal variation in the Soutpansberg Mountains, South Africa. Journal of Tropical Ecology. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0266467414000613

Ben Coleman & Russell Hill. 2015. Biogeographic variation in the diet and behaviour of Cercopithecus mitis. Folia Primatologica. http://www.karger.com/Article/Abstract/368895

Katarzyna Nowaka, Aliza le Roux, Shane Richards, Ciska Scheijen & Russell Hill. 2014. Human observers impact habituated samango monkeys’ perceived landscape of fear. Behavioral Ecology. http://beheco.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2014/07/09/beheco.aru110.short

Mohammad Abu Baker & Joel Brown. 2014. Foraging in space and time structure an African small mammal community. Oecologia. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00442-014-2926-6

Valerie Linden, Sina Weier, Ian Gaigher, Henry Kuipers, Martijn Weterings and Peter Taylor. 2014. Changes of Bat Activity, Species Richness, Diversity and Community Composition over an Altitudinal Gradient in the Soutpansberg Range, South Africa. Acta Chiropterologica. http://www.bioone.org/doi/abs/10.3161/150811014X683246

Ben Coleman & Russell A. Hill. 2014. Living in a landscape of fear: the impact of predation, resource availability and habitat structure on primate range use. Animal Behaviour. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0003347213005356

Sara Emerson & Joel Brown. 2013. Identifying preferred habitats of samango monkeys (Cercopithecus (nictitans) mitis erythrarchus) through patch use. Behavioural Processes. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0376635713002180

Julia Chase Grey, Vivien Kent & Russell Hill. 2013. Evidence of a high density population of harvested leopards in a montane environment. PLOS ONE http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0082832

Peter Taylor, Sandie Sowler, Corrie Schoeman & Ara Monadjem. 2013. Diversity of Bats in the Soutpansberg and Blouberg Mountains of Northern South Africa: Complementarity of Acoustic and Non-Acoustic Survey Methods. South African Journal of Wildlife Research. http://www.bioone.org/doi/abs/10.3957/056.043.0117

Mohammad Abu Baker & Joel Brown. 2013. Foraging and habitat use of common duikers, Sylvicapra grimmia, in a heterogeneous environment within the Soutpansberg, South Africa. African Journal of Ecology. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/aje.12122/abstract

Felix Hager and Wolfgang Kirchner. 2013. Vibrational long-distance communication in the termites Macrotermes natalensis and Odontotermes sp. Journal of Experimental Biology. http://jeb.biologists.org/content/216/17/3249.short

Frank van Langevelde, Casper de Groot, Thomas Groen, Ignas Heitkönig & Ian Gaigher. 2013. Effect of patches of woody vegetation on the role of fire in tropical grasslands and savannas. International Journal of Wildland Fire. http://www.publish.csiro.au/?paper=WF13119

Sebastian Kirchhof, Niels Jacobsen & Klaus Richter. 2012. Intraspecific variation of morphology, colouration, pholidosis, and tail loss rate in a relic lacertid of South Africa, Australolacerta rupicola (Sauria: Lacertidae). Salamandra

Mohammad Abu Baker & Joel Brown. 2012. Patch use behaviour of Elephantulus myurus and Micaelamys namaquensis: the role of diet, foraging substrates and escape substrates. African Journal of Ecology. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2028.2011.01309.x/abstract

Sara Emerson & Joel Brown 2012. Using Giving-Up Densities to Test for Dietary Preferences in Primates: An Example with Samango Monkeys (Cercopithecus (nictitans) mitis erythrarchus). International Journal of Primatology. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10764-012-9631-2

Caswell Munyai & Stefan Foord. 2012. Ants on a mountain: spatial, environmental and habitat associations along an altitudinal transect in a centre of endemism. Journal of Insect Conservation. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10841-011-9449-9

Sara Emerson, Jabu Linden & Joel Brown. 2011. Identifying Sykes’ monkeys’, Cercopithecus albogularis erythrarchus, axes of fear through patch use. Animal Behaviour. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2028.2009.01192.x/abstract

Mohammad Abu Baker & Joel Brown. 2011. Variation of within-day foraging costs in the striped mouse (Rhabdomys pumilio). Mammalian Biology. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1616504711000280

Clare McArthur, Paul Orlando, Peter Banks & Joel Brown. 2011. The foraging tightrope between predation risk and plant toxins: a matter of concentration. Functional Ecology. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2435.2011.01930.x/full

Sebastian Kirchhof, Jabu Linden, Dennis Rödder& Klaus Richter. 2010. Foraging mode of Australolacerta rupicola (FitzSimons, 1933) (Sauria: Lacertidae): evidence of seasonal variation in an extremely active predator? Journal of Natural History. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00222933.2010.502595

Sebastian Kirchhof, Jabu Linden, Dennis Rödder & Klaus Richter.  2010. Daily activity patterns of Australolacerta rupicola (FitzSimons, 1933) (Sauria: Lacertidae) with comments on niche segregation within a syntopic lizard community. North-Western Journal of Zoology. http://journals.indexcopernicus.com/issue.php?id=8285&id_issue=845931

Sebastian Kirchhof, Michael Krämer, Jabu Linden & Klaus Richter. 2010. The reptile species assemblage of the Soutpansberg (Limpopo Province, South Africa) and its characteristics. Salamandra

Mohammad Abu Baker & Joel Brown. 2010. Islands of fear: effects of wooded patches on habitat suitability of the striped mouse in a South African grassland.  Functional Ecology. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2435.2010.01757.x/full

Verena Seufert, Birthe Heikamp & Frauke Fischer. 2010. Revealing secondary seed removers – results from camera trapping. African Journal of Ecology. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2028.2009.01192.x/abstract

Charles Haddad. 2009. Vendaphaea, a new dark sac spider genus apparently endemic to the Soutpansberg Mountains, South Africa (Araneae: Corinnidae). African Invertebrates. http://reference.sabinet.co.za/sa_epublication_article/nmsa_ai_v50_n2_a4

Erik Willems, Robert Barton & Russell Hill. 2009. Remotely sensed productivity, regional home range selection, and local range use by an omnivorous primate. Behavioral Ecology. http://beheco.oxfordjournals.org/content/20/5/985.full

Erik Willems & Russell Hill. 2009. Predator-specific landscapes of fear and resource distribution: effects on spatial range use. Ecology. http://www.esajournals.org/doi/abs/10.1890/08-0765.1

Matthias van Oosterhout, Gerard van der Velde & Ian Gaigher. 2009. High altitude mountain streams as a possible refuge habitat for the catfish Amphilius uranoscopusEnvironemental Biology of Fishes. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10641-008-9394-y

Theo Mostert, George Bredenkamp, Hannes Klopper, Cornie Verwey, Rachel Mostert & Norbert Hahn. 2008. Major vegetation types of the Soutpansberg Conservancy and the Blouberg Nature Reserve, South Africa. Koedoe. http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0075-64582008000100006&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en

Axel Schonhofer. 2008. On harvestmen from the Soutpansberg, South Africa, with description of a new species of Monomontia (Arachnida: Opiliones). African Invertebrates. http://reference.sabinet.co.za/sa_epublication_article/nmsa_ai_v49_n2_a6

Christopher Haddad & Robin Lyle. 2008. Three new genera of tracheline sac spiders from southern Africa (Araneae: Corinnidae). African Invertebrates. http://reference.sabinet.co.za/sa_epublication_article/nmsa_ai_v49_n2_a4

Anja Mourik, Frank van Langevelde, Esther van Tellingen, Ignas Heitkönig & Ian Gaigher. 2007. Stability of wooded patches in a South African nutrient-poor grassland: do nutrients, fire or herbivores limit their expansion? Journal of Tropical Ecology. http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=1304320&fileId=S0266467407004282

Sebastian Schwarz & Frauke Fischer. 2006. Feeding ecology of leopards (Panthera pardus) in the western Soutpansberg, Republic of South Africa, as revealed by scat analyses. Ecotropica.

Brock, A.P. Nortje, E & Ian Gaigher.  2003. Habitat preference of a local population of bushbuck in the Soutpansberg Mountains, South Africa. South African Journal of Wildlife Research. http://reference.sabinet.co.za/sa_epublication_article/wild_v33_n2_a10

Stefan Foord, Ansie Dippenaar-Schoeman & Marius van der Merwe. 2002. A check list of the spider fauna of the Western Soutpansberg, South Africa (Arachnida: Araneae). Koedoe. http://www.koedoe.co.za/index.php/koedoe/article/viewArticle/25



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