, 27:162 | Cite as

Conservation status of large branchiopods in the western Cape, South Africa

  • Els R. De RoeckEmail author
  • Bram J. Vanschoenwinkel
  • Jenny A. Day
  • Yongxin Xu
  • Lincoln Raitt
  • Luc Brendonck


Temporary wetlands are an ecologically and economically important habitat in South Africa. They harbor large branchiopods, known to be flagship species of nonpermanent aquatic habitats, and sensitive to land use changes. In this study we review the current status of large branchiopods in the Western Cape, a South African province subject to increasing agriculture and urbanization. We studied the species diversity and distribution of large branchiopods by sampling 58 temporary wetlands in an area covering about 30% of the Western Cape. Information obtained from field samples was supplemented by incubating resting egg banks from the sampled wetlands. Our data were compared with all known distribution records for large branchiopods in the target region. Based on this combined information, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Red List category was assessed for each species. Four of the eight large branchiopod species known to occur in the sampling area were collected. Of all wetlands sampled, 40% harbored large branchiopods. Most anostracan populations were small, and species co-occurred in only one wetland. From the entire Western Cape, 14 species have been recorded in the past. Two of these are already included in the IUCN Red List. Insufficient data are available to determine the IUCN Red Data Category of six other species. A large variation in the telsonic appendages of S. dendyi was found across the studied area. In view of possible ongoing speciation and subsequent radiation, individual populations need protection. Since little information is available, it is difficult to evaluate recent changes in the conservation status of large branchiopods. Their populations are currently very low and have probably diminished in the last few decades. More knowledge about the functioning of temporary systems is needed to manage these vulnerable habitats and conserve their threatened species.

Key Words

Anostraca biodiversity distribution temporary wetlands threatened species 

Literature Cited

  1. Balmford, A. 2003. Conservation planning in the real world: South Africa shows the way. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 18: 435–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Barnard, K. H. 1929. Contributions to the crustacean fauna of South Africa. No. 10. A revision of the South African Branchiopoda (Phyllopoda). Annals of the South African Museum 29: 181–272.Google Scholar
  3. Beladjal, L., N. Peiren, T. T. M. Vandekerckhove, and J. Mertens. 2003. Different life histories of the co-occurring fairy shrimps Branchipus schaefferi and Streptocephalus torvicornis (Anostraca). Journal of Crustacean Biology 23: 300–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Belk, D. 1998. Global status and trends in ephemeral pool invertebrate conservation: implications for Californian fairy shrimp. p. 147–50. In C. W. Withman, E. Bauder, D. Belk, W. Ferrer, and R. Ornduff (eds.) Ecology, Conservation, and Management of Vernal Pool Ecosystems. Proceedings from a 1996 Conference. California Native Plant Society, Sacramento, CA, USA.Google Scholar
  5. Bilton, D. T., A. Foggo, and S. D. Rundle. 2001. Size, permanence and the proportion of predators in ponds. Archiv für Hydrobiologie 151: 451–58.Google Scholar
  6. Brendonck, L. and L. De Meester. 2003. Egg banks in freshwater Zooplankton: evolutionary and ecological archives in the sediment. Hydrobiologia 491: 65–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Brendonck, L. and M. Hamer. 1999. Does the Streptocephalus vitreus-species group (Branchiopoda, Anostraca) reflect ongoing speciation? In Crustacean and the Biodiversity Crisis — Proceedings of the Fourth International Crustacean Congress, 20–24 July 1998, 1: 267–78. Amsterdam, The Netherlands.Google Scholar
  8. Brendonck, L. and B. Riddoch. 1997. Anostracans (Branchiopoda) of Botswana: morphology, distribution, diversity, and endemicity. Journal of Crustacean Biology 17: 111–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Brendonck, L., B. Riddoch, V. Van De Weghe, and T. Van Dooren. 1998. The maintenance of egg banks in very shortlived pools — a case study with anostracans (Branchiopoda). Archives Hydrobiologica Special Issues on Advanced Limnology 52: 141–61.Google Scholar
  10. Brendonck, L. and W. D. Williams. 2000. Biodiversity in wetlands of dry regions (drylands). Biodiversity in wetlands: assessment, function and conservation 1: 181–94.Google Scholar
  11. Brown, A. C., B. R. Davies, J. A. Day, and A. J. C. Gardiner. 1991. Chemical pollution loading of False Bay. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Africa 47: 703–16.Google Scholar
  12. Convention on wetlands. 1971. Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance. Ramsar, Iran.Google Scholar
  13. Corti, D., S. L. Kohler, and R. E. Sparks. 1997. Effects of hydroperiod and predation on a Mississippi river floodplain invertebrate community. Oecologia 109: 154–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dalvie, M. A., L. London, S. Mbuli, and E. Cairncross. 2004. Knowledge and attitudes in the rural Western Cape towards pesticides in water sources. Water SA 30: 43–50.Google Scholar
  15. Davies, B. and J. Day. 1998. Vanishing waters. University of Cape Town Press, Cape Town, South Africa.Google Scholar
  16. Day, J. A. 1990. Environmental correlates of aquatic faunal distribution in the Namib desert. p. 99–107. In M. K. Seely (ed.) Namib ecology: 25 years of Namib research. Monograph no. 7, Transvaal Museum, Pretoria, South Africa.Google Scholar
  17. Day, J. A., B. Steward, I. de Moor, and A. Louw. 1999. Guides to the freshwater invertebrates of Southern Africa. Volume 2: Crustacea I. Notostraca, Anostraca, Conchostraca and Cladocera. WRC Report NO. TT 121/00.Google Scholar
  18. Department of Water Affairs and Tourism (DEAF). 2000. Environmental potential atlas for South Africa: Mean annual precipitation; Dominant geology; Land cover; Land use. Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Pretoria, South Africa ( Scholar
  19. Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF). 2003. Resource Directed Measures. Module 1: Introductory module. Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, Pretoria, South Africa.Google Scholar
  20. Eng, L. L., D. Belk, and C. H. Eriksen. 1990. Californian Anostraca — Distribution, habitat, and status. Journal of Crustacean Biology 10: 247–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Fuggle, R. F. and E. R. Ashton. 1979. Climate. p. 7–15. In J. Day, W. R. Siegfried, G. N. Louw, and M. L. Jarman (eds.) Fynbos Ecology: A Preliminary Synthesis. CSIR, Pretoria, South Africa.Google Scholar
  22. Goldblatt, P. 1997. Floristic diversity in the Cape flora of South Africa. Biodiversity and Conservation 6: 359–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Graham, T. B. 1995. Sympatric occurrence of Eubranchiopoda in ephemeral pools: a comment. American Midland Naturalist 133: 371–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hamer, M. L. and C. C. Appleton. 1991. Life-history adaptations of phyllopods in response to predators, vegetation, and habitat duration in North-Eastern Natal. Hydrobiologia 212: 105–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hamer, M. L. and C. C. Appleton. 1996. The genus Branchipodopsis (Crustacea, Branchiopoda, Anostraca) in southern Africa. Morphology, distribution, relationships and the description of five new species. Annals of the South African Museum 104: 311–77.Google Scholar
  26. Hamer, M. L. and L. Brendonck. 1997. Distribution, diversity and conservation of Anostraca (Crustacea: Branchiopoda) in Southern Africa. Hydrobiologia 359: 1–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hamer, M. L., L. Brendonck, C. C. Appleton, and A. Coomans. 1994. A review of African Streptocephalidae (Crustacea: Branchiopoda: Anostraca) Part 1: Africa south of the Zambezi and Kunene Rivers. Archiv für Hydrobiologie 99: 279–311.Google Scholar
  28. Hamer, M. L. and K. Martens. 1998. The large branchiopoda (Crustacea) from temporary habitats of the Drakensberg region, South Africa. Hydrobiologia 384: 151–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hamer, M. L. and N. A. Rayner. 1995. A note on the taxonomy and distribution of Triops Schrank (Crustacea: Branchiopoda: Notostraca) in southern Africa. Annals of the Natal Museum 36: 9–19.Google Scholar
  30. Hamer, M. L. and N. A. Rayner. 1996. A note on the unusual crustacean community of a temporary pool in the Northern Cape. Southern African Journal of Aquatic Sciences 22: 100–4.Google Scholar
  31. Hathaway, S. A. and M. A. Simovich. 1996. Factors affecting the distribution and co-occurrence of two Southern Californian Anostracans (Branchiopoda), Branchinecta sandiegonensis and Streptocephalus woottoni. Journal of Crustacean Biology 16: 669–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hobbs, J. E., J. A. Lindesay, and H. A. Bridgman. 1998. Climates of the Southern Continents: Present, Past and Future. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, NY, USA.Google Scholar
  33. International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). 2001. IUCN Red List categories and criteria: Version 3.1. IUCN species survival commission, IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.Google Scholar
  34. International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). 2003. Guidelines for application for IUCN Red List criteria at regional levels: Version 3.0. IUCN Species Survival Commission, IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.Google Scholar
  35. Jones, M. G. W. and J. A. Day. 2003. A field classification system for the wetlands of the Western Cape. The Freshwater Research Unit, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa.Google Scholar
  36. King, J. L. 1998. Loss of diversity as a consequence of habitat destruction in California vernal pools. p. 119–23. In C. W. Withman, E. Bauder, D. Belk, W. Ferrer, and R. Ornduff (eds.) Ecology, Conservation, and Management of Vernal Pool Ecosystems. Proceedings from a 1996 Conference. California Native Plant Society, Sacramento, CA, USA.Google Scholar
  37. Lahr, J. 1997. Ecotoxicology of organisms adapted to life in temporary freshwater ponds in arid and semi-arid regions. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 32: 50–57.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. Maeda-Martinez, A. M., D. Belk, H. Obregón-Barboza, and H. J. Dumont. 1997. Large branchiopod assemblages common to Mexico and the United States. Hydrobiologia 359: 45–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Martens, K. and F. De Moor. 1995. The fate of the Rhino-Ridge pool at Thomas-Baines-Nature-Reserve — a cautionary tale for nature conservationists. South African Journal of Science 91: 385–87.Google Scholar
  40. Martin, J. W. 1992. Chapter 3. Branchiopoda. p. 25–224. In F. Harrison and A. G. Humes (eds.) Microscopic Anatomy of Invertebrates, Volume 9: Crustacea. Wiley-Liss, Inc., New York, NY, USA.Google Scholar
  41. Meyer, S. 2000. An explanation of the 1:500 000 general hydrogeological map Cape Town 3317. Directorate: Geohydrology, DWAF, Cape Town, South Africa.Google Scholar
  42. Midgley, G. F., R. A. Chapman, B. Hewitson, P. Johnston, M. de Wit, G. Ziervogel, P. Mukheibir, L. van Niekerk, M. Tadross, B. W. van Wilgen, B. Kgope, P. D. Morant, A. Theron, R. J. Scholes, and G. G. Forsyth. 2005. A status quo, vulnerability and adaptation assessment of the physical and socio-economic effects of climate change in the Western Cape. Report to the Western Cape Government, Cape Town, South Africa. CSIR ENV-S-C 2005-073.Google Scholar
  43. Midgley, G. F., L. Hannah, D. Millar, M. C. Rutherford, and L. W. Powrie. 2002. Assessing the vulnerability of species richness to anthropogenic climate change in a biodiversity hotspot. Global Ecology and Biogeography 11: 445–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. New, M. 2002. Climate change and water resources in the southwestern Cape, South Africa. South African Journal of Science 98: 1–8.Google Scholar
  45. Pyke, C. R. and D. T. Fischer. 2005. Selection of bioclimatically representative biological reserve systems under climate change. Biological Conservation 121: 429–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Schwartz, S. S. and D. G. Jenkins. 2000. Temporary aquatic habitats: constraints and opportunities. Aquatic Ecology 34: 3–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Semlitsch, R. D. and J. R. Bodie. 1998. Are small, isolated wetlands expendable? Conservation Biology 12: 1129–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Simovich, M. A. and S. A. Hathaway. 1997. Diversified bethedging as a reproductive strategy of some ephemeral pool anostracans (Branchiopoda). Journal of Crustacean Biology 17: 38–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Spencer, M., L. Blaustein, S. S. Schwartz, and J. E. Cohen. 1999. Species richness and the proportion of predatory animal species in temporary freshwater pools: Relationships with habitat size and permanence. Ecology Letters 2: 157–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. StatSoft, Inc. 2001. STATISTICA (data analysis software system), version 6. Scholar
  51. Tailing, J. F. and D. Driver. 1963. Some problems in the estimation of chlorophyll a in phytoplankton. Proceedings of the conference on primary production measurements, marine and freshwater. U. S. Atomic Energy Communication TID-7633, 142–46.Google Scholar
  52. Thiery, A. 1991. Multispecies coexistence of branchiopods (Anostraca, Notostraca and Spinicaudata) in temporary ponds of Chaouia Plain (Western Morocco) — Sympatry or syntopy between usually allopatric species. Hydrobiologia 212: 117–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. van Jaarsveld, A. S. and S. L. Chown. 2001. Climate change and its impacts in South Africa. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 16: 13–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Water Act. 1998. South African National Water Act (No. 36) Government Gazette. Volume 398. Number 19182. Government Printers, Pretoria, South Africa.Google Scholar
  55. Wishart, M. J. and J. A. Day. 2002. Endemism in the freshwater fauna of the south-western Cape, South Africa. Verhandlungen der Internationalen Vereinigung für theoretische und angewandte Limnologie 28: 1–5.Google Scholar
  56. Wissinger, S. A., A. J. Bohonak, H. H. Whiteman, and W. S. Brown. 1999. Subalpine wetlands in Colorado: Habitat permanence, salamander predation, and invertebrate communities. p. 757–90. In D. P. Batzer, R. R. Rader, and S. A. Wissinger (eds.) Invertebrates in freshwater wetlands of North America: ecology and management. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, NY, USA.Google Scholar
  57. Woodward, B. D. and J. Kiesecker. 1994. Ecological conditions and the notonectid-fairy shrimp interaction. Southwestern Naturalist 39: 160–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Society of Wetland Scientists 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Els R. De Roeck
    • 1
    Email author
  • Bram J. Vanschoenwinkel
    • 1
  • Jenny A. Day
    • 2
  • Yongxin Xu
    • 3
  • Lincoln Raitt
    • 4
  • Luc Brendonck
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of Aquatic EcologyCatholic University of LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  2. 2.Freshwater Research Unit, Department of ZoologyUniversity of Cape TownWestern CapeSouth Africa
  3. 3.Department of Earth SciencesUniversity of the Western CapeWestern CapeSouth Africa
  4. 4.Department of Biodiversity and Conservation BiologyUniversity of the Western CapeWestern CapeSouth Africa

Personalised recommendations