Karen J. Esler's research while affiliated with Stellenbosch University and other places

Publications (25)

Article
1. Traits mediate mutualistic and antagonistic interactions between plants and animals, and should thus be useful for predicting trophic species interactions. Studies to date have examined the importance of morphological trait matching for plant‐animal interactions, but have rarely explored the extent to which these interactions are shaped by match...
Book
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This is a handbook intended to provide guidance on nature-based solutions for supporting water sustainability in peri-urban areas. The reader is presented with an innovative, holistic and operational framework that has been developed through transdisciplinary processes. It also contains detailed guidelines about how to use the framework for a more...
Article
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Social-ecological systems (SES) research has emerged as an important area of sustainability science, informing and supporting pressing issues of transformation towards more sustainable, just and equitable futures. To date, much SES research has been done in or from the Global North, where the challenges and contexts for supporting sustainability tr...
Article
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Recent efforts to achieve social, economic, and environmental goals related to sustainability emphasize the importance of nature-based solutions (NBS), as grey infrastructure alone is insufficient to address current challenges. The majority of frameworks proposed in the literature fail to address the full potential of NBS, neglecting long-term res...
Article
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Current ecological understanding of plants with underground storage organs (USOs) suggests they have, in general, low rates of recruitment and thus as a resource it should be rapidly exhausted, which likely had implications for hunter-gatherer mobility patterns. We focus on the resilience (defined here as the ability of species to persist after bei...
Article
Anticipating, avoiding, and managing disruptive environmental change such as regime shifts and the impacts it has on human well-being is a key sustainability challenge. Woody encroachment is a globally important example of a regime shift that occurs in savanna systems, where a large fraction of the world's poor live. Woody encroachment is known to...
Article
Ecological restoration efforts at scale have been shown to play an important role in reducing human impact on the environment, improving climate change adaptation and halting extinctions globally. Upscaling restoration efforts needs funding, and therefore evidence of the benefits of restoration is needed. This study aims to contribute towards addre...
Preprint
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Ecological restoration efforts at scale have been shown to play an important role in reducing human impact on the environment, improving climate change adaptation and halting extinctions globally. Upscaling restoration efforts needs funding, and therefore evidence of the benefits of restoration is needed. The aims of this study are firstly to impro...
Article
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Restoring riparian ecosystems in human-dominated landscapes requires attention to complexity, and consideration of diverse drivers, social actors, and contexts. Addressing a Global North bias, this case study uses a mixed-method approach, integrating historical data, remote sensing techniques and stakeholder perceptions to guide restoration of a ri...
Article
The shrub Hypericum canariense L. (Hypericaceae) is an emerging invader in several parts of the world. In this study we determined the current invasive distribution in South Africa, assessed soil seedbanks, determined size at reproduction, and evaluated the current management protocols. We further assessed the feasibility of eradication and provide...
Article
Systematic conservation planning is a scientific method of prioritising scarce resources to minimise the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services. The approach aims to consider social, economic and political imperatives, and may be used by municipalities to designate their (predominantly) natural open space systems, in the form of a conservation...
Article
Invasive alien nitrogen-fixing species, such as Australian acacias, often leave a legacy of elevated available soil nitrogen after their removal. This legacy effect can facilitate secondary invasion by other alien species, thereby preventing natural restoration of areas being managed. To restore viable native plant communities in ecosystems where s...
Article
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Background Fieldwork plays an important role in research projects across a variety of fields, especially in the multidisciplinary setting of natural and social science research. As is the nature of fieldwork, things do not always work out as planned, and yet this is not often written about. In response to the need for honest and transparent account...
Article
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Few studies have highlighted perceptions of urban natural open space systems: land specifically excluded from development to protect ecosystem services. We used a local metropolitan city in South Africa to explore community perceptions of its natural open space system through individual qualitative interviews (n = 40). The objectives were: (1) to i...
Article
Grit is implicated in several biological phenomena—it wears teeth, it fractures teeth, it drives tooth evolution, it elicits complex manual manipulations—any one of which could be described as a central topic in evolutionary anthropology. But what is grit? We hardly know because we tend to privilege the consequences of grit (it is abrasive) over it...
Article
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Questions How has exotic plant species richness and composition changed in and adjacent to a montane road verge over a 10-year period? Are montane road verges conduits of exotic species dispersal into adjacent, undisturbed hinterland? Location Montane grassland, Maloti-Drakensberg Transfrontier Conservation Area, South Africa. Methods We surveyed...
Article
Despite its status as a biodiversity hotspot, the renosterveld ecosystem within the Greater Cape Floristic Region, South Africa, widely lacks the implementation of measures for biodiversity conservation in the Swartland, even though management plans exist. Though formally protected by law, most renosterveld remnants occur on privately owned agricul...
Article
Ecological infrastructure (EI) is a natural and near-natural functioning ecosystem that delivers a range of essential services to humankind. Examples include mountain catchments, wetlands, coastal dunes, and riparian corridors. In a world where EI is underinvested, rapid degradation and threats such as unsustainable veld-fire regimes, droughts, cli...
Article
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There is increasing interest in the potential of private land conservation areas (PLCAs) as a complementary biodiversity conservation strategy to state-owned protected areas. However, there is limited understanding of how the diverse social-ecological contexts of PLCAs influence their effectiveness in conserving biodiversity. Here, we investigated...
Article
Scaled up planning and implementation of nature-based solutions requires better understanding of broad characteristics (typologies) of the current governance and financing landscape, collaborative approaches amidst local complexities, and factors of scalability. An inventory was compiled of water-related ecological infrastructure intervention proje...
Article
Full-text available
Investments to promote sustainable land-use within critical river catchment areas are often undertaken to provide benefits to society. Investments generally aim to protect or restore ecological infrastructure—the underlying framework of ecosystems, functions and processes that supply ecosystem services—for multiple benefits to society. However, the...
Article
1. The ecological effects of harvesting from wild populations are often uncertain, especially since the sensitivity of populations to harvesting can vary across species’ geographical ranges. In the Cape Floristic Region (CFR, South Africa) biodiversity hotspot, wildflower harvesting is widespread and economically important, providing an income to m...
Article
Full-text available
Community and invasion ecology have mostly grown independently. There is substantial overlap in the processes captured by different models in the two fields, and various frameworks have been developed to reduce this redundancy and synthesize information content. Despite broad recognition that community and invasion ecology are interconnected, a pro...

Citations

... Hydrological model set-up and validation. The details of the model set up and evaluation are described in ref. 63 , so we only provide a summary here. We set up the MIKE SHE physically based hydrological model coupled with MIKE HYDRO River channel routing model to simulate the hydrological response of catchments to the four climate-IAT states at a daily time step. ...
... With the degradation of grassy ecosystems, the tourism potential of areas is likely to decline by both negatively impacting the biodiversity that is the source of tourism and through reducing visitor satisfaction and willingness to revisit (218,219). When grassy ecosystems have been invaded with trees, land users in Africa have found that in addition to reduced water provision and grass for grazing, the decrease in open grassy areas has made areas feel unsafe and inaccessible (220,221). Additionally, cultural practices linked with open landscapes are lost to the communities living in the area from the loss of sources of medicinal plants to a loss of a connection to the past (221). ...
... Pontederia cordata produces copious amounts of seeds in the native range that are small, buoyant, and more easily dispersed than rhizomes (Gettys & Dumroese, 2009 is not permitted due to the plant's high invasive potential. Despite these restrictions in trade and legislation, backyard trading may facilitate the spread of the species, a common problem in South Africa (Afonso et al., 2022;Geerts et al., 2017;Martin & Coetzee, 2011). ...
... First, an important feature of the settler-colonial period in East Africa was the establishment and entrenchment of militarized conservation regimes that became a lasting component of colonial governance across the region, with conserved land secured by fences and patrols of armed and military-trained rangers. Colonial conservation regimes fundamentally altered locals' access to and relationship with their land and natural environment (Gissibl, 2016;Melubo, 2020;Wessels et al., 2021). A separate but similarly important feature of East African settler-colonialism effected leisure and free time, reshaping foundational components of societies. ...
... Particularly, there is an ongoing debate about how the consumption of exogenous abrasives impacts dental microwear textures (DMT), and whether its impact prevails over the one of diet (e.g. Mainland, 2003;Lucas et al., 2013Lucas et al., , 2014Hoffman et al., 2015;Xia et al., 2015;Merceron et al., 2016;van Casteren et al., 2018;Ackermans et al., 2020;Hua et al., 2020;Schulz-Kornas et al., 2020;Winkler et al., 2020b;Fannin et al., 2021;Teaford et al., 2021). ...
... Papers focusing on social issues (n = 3) were related to social/ecological justice [88,48] and social empowerment [38]. Finally, two papers focused on identifying the needs and willingness to contribute of different private sector agents in the planning and management of NBS [89,90]. ...
... There is occasional recognition of "champions" in the ES literature (e.g., Sitas et al., 2014;Saarikoski et al., 2018), and in broader environmental and conservation literature that refers to ES (Pasquini et al., 2015;Garçon et al., 2019;Wang and Wolf, 2019;Fanning et al., 2021;McLoughlin et al., 2021;Wessels et al., 2021). Sitas et al. (2014Sitas et al. ( , p. 1325 describe "champions, " as individuals or institutions that take responsibility for publicizing and garnering support for a "cause, " otherwise they are not defined in this literature. ...
... For instance, Reinecke et al. (2008) found that after Acacia clearing, alien grasses dominated, whilst after pine clearing, passive restoration resulted in good recovery of riparian vegetation, even though being species poor. This abundance of graminoids as well as herbs has been reported before and might be linked to their faster growth rates and shorter life cycles or soil nutrient enrichment (Yelenik et al., 2004;Balamurungan et al., 2000;Nsikani et al., 2021), increased leaf litter and/or soil micro-nutrient concentrations due to the Eucalyptus invasion . These then persist over time through positive feedback loops in so called alternative stable states (Gaertner et al., 2012b;Holmes et al., 2020). ...
... Only four countries have conducted such studies (Capano et al. 2019). Shumba et al. (2021) reported that easy access to private areas has a high vulnerability to deforestation due to infrastructure development and agricultural land conversion. What makes it worse is that the landowners may not necessarily see the importance of conservation and may have their motivevalues and cultural reason regarding the place (Farmer et al. 2015). ...
... Another reason for the timeliness of this research is the urgent need for governments to adopt alternative, innovative, and hyper-local solutions to combat the pervasive impacts of climate change and urban expansion [67]. The challenges and opportunities presented by complex governance configurations need to be part of this discussion [68], where UGI offers a suite of benefits to mitigate climate change [69], alleviate flood risk [70], improve public health [71], be economically affordable [14], and be delivered at a scale accounting for administrative and ecological boundaries [72][73][74]. ...