Rethabile Motloung – South African National Biodiversity Institute
South Africa is a megadiverse country with three declared biodiversity hotspots. This biodiversity is, however, under severe threats associated with habitat loss, alien species invasion and climate change. Given the urgent need for conservation prioritisation for South African fauna, we are carrying out an assessment of narrow range endemic (NREs) species to identify sites and species that are potentially important for conservation action. Since there is no globally accepted definition of an NRE, the global key biodiversity areas definition of range-restrictedness is used, i.e. terrestrial species endemic to South Africa with a naturally small geographical range of < 10,000 km2. The overall study aim is to determine the biogeography and assess the conservation of the selected NREs in South Africa. The objectives are to determine which of the selected NREs are relicts or neoendemics and identify centres of faunal endemism for the selected groups; determine the processes and drivers of NRE in South African fauna; assess if there is a level of congruence between the known centres of floristic endemism and the centres of faunal endemism based on the selected groups, and lastly assess the levels of protection of the selected NRE species based on the current protected area legislation in South Africa. This study will mainly use species occurrence records from museum collections and published atlases. The selected study taxa include butterflies, millipedes, terrestrial molluscs, frogs, reptiles, dung beetles, bees, grasshoppers, and harvestmen. Maps of the NREs will be overlaid across taxa and environmental features to answer these questions: 1) Which areas are important for NREs, and are there localities that overlap across taxa? 2) What are the drivers or evolutionary history of narrow range endemism? Are the identified NREs adequately protected under the current protected area legislation?