ENTOMOLOGICAL SURVEY IN ZAMBEZI NATIONAL PARK, ZIMBABWE

To generate baseline data on the interactions between insect and flora species in the Zambezi and Victoria Falls National Park.


This study, in conjunction with the Zimbabwe Parks & Wildlife Management Authority, aims to produce baseline data on the interactions between the various insect species and flora found in the area.

The objectives of the program are:

  • To establish an inventory of insects found in Zambezi National Park.
  • To determine species and functional diversity of those insects.
  • To produce an identification guide or keys to the major orders of insects found in the area

There is hardly any need for demonstrating the benefits of taking insects into account when managing a natural ecosystem such as a forests and nature reserves.  This is because insects make up a dominant part (greater than 80%) of the biodiversity of forest fauna.  They are actors in the functioning of ecosystems and are involved at every level of trophic networks.  The presence or absence of certain species makes it possible to verify whether an ecosystem is functioning properly or not.  In this way, insects can be good indicators of ecosystem quality and management impacts on the habitat. From the smallest among them to the biggest, from the most insignificant to the most spectacular, they are a heritage that we can no longer afford to ignore.

Vegetation and insect fauna surveying is conducted in sampling plots that are divided into transects.  In each plot, pan, pit-fall and butterfly traps are placed to capture insects.  Samples collected are being sent to the National University of Science and Technology, Zimbabwe, for further identification with reference to the collection of the Natural History Museum in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.  The data collected is used by the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority in monitoring the state of habitats within the Zambezi and Victoria Falls National Parks, whilst specimens of interest are preserved and added to the collection of one the world`s largest entomology collections at the Natural History Museum in Bulawayo. 

Through this study it is hoped that an understanding of the entomological mechanisms for particular plant species, especially invasive alien plant species (IAPS) can be achieved with the ultimate aim of considering natural conservation measures to control IAPS.  Such action will help the restoration of indigenous plants.


Milestones:

To date, 24 fixed plots have been established in at least 4 heterogeneous habitat types that are found within the Zambezi National Park.  Setting of traps and plots within these habitats has already been done for the cool-dry season and the same process is going to be replicated throughout the other two seasons {i.e. hot-dry (August to November) and the hot-wet (December to March)} information which will be used in ascertaining level on disturbances in these habitats and potentially show a clearer picture of differences that arise due to seasonal variations. 

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