Maintaining biological diversity requires understanding the role of trophic interactions and the potential consequences to biodiversity caused by losing particular linkages. A trophic cascade occurs when changes in the size of one population results in changes in populations at lower levels of the food web. To determine whether there are cascading effects on farmlands we collect data across multiple trophic levels including top predators (leopards), mesopredators (caracal and jackal, medium-large mammals (antelope, hare, dassie), small mammals (mice and rats) and vegetation. To assess vegetation structure and composition, we carry out extensive vegetation surveys that include species-level identification of palatable and unpalatable plant species, plant density and diversity, horizontal cover, canopy cover and browse impact.
The succulent Karoo in Namaqualand, Northern Cape is a botanical biodiversity hotspot and is home to multiple endemic plant species. Seventy percent of private land in South Africa is used for agricultural purposes which may pose threats to plant species through the loss of top-down regulation of herbivores by predators and overgrazing by livestock.