ILTER: 1st Open Science Meeting Skukuza 2016

Arid Lands - Karoo
06 - 09 October 2016

Join the staff of the SAEON Arid Lands Node on a Tour de Force of LTER sites between 34oS/22oE and 29oS/26oE, ranging from field experiments initiated 30-80 years ago, as well as a range of new and future topical studies. Your tour will start in the Little Karoo, linger a bit in the Succulent Karoo at the 30-year old Tierberg-LTER Karoo Research Centre and the Wolwekraal Nature Reserve, and touch on several new Square Kilometre Observatories (SKOs) in the Lower- and Upper-Karoo. Relax 1000 m below the 2500 m high Compassberg while learning about LTER up this altitudinal gradient. Learn the meaning of “80 years, still going… still changing…” at the world’s oldest continuous grazing trials at Grootfontein. Finally, after hearing about long-term monitoring of South Africa’s most significant river, the Orange, you will finish the tour in the amazing grasslands.

Savannas of North-Eastern South Africa
07 - 09 October 2016

The Savanna Field Trip will take you through many of the diverse range of savanna ecosystems of South Africa, with stops at many of the long-term research sites that have produced key advances in savanna ecology in South Africa over the past decades.  Travelling north from Johannesburg, the first stop will be Nylsvlei Nature Reserve, focal site of the South African Savanna Biome Project. From Nylsvlei we head north-east to cross the Great Escarpment mountain range. Then a short trip through a very different world within the same general ecosystem type: communal rural rangelands that surround the hundreds of poverty-stricken rural villages of the region. The trip will finish with visits to two long-term experimental research sites with the 20 000km2 Kruger National Park.

Drakensberg Mountains
06 - 09 October 2016
Field trip theme: “Long term monitoring and rangeland management in South Africa’s primary water catchment area”

On this trip we will take you to some of the longest running streamflow and weather monitoring catchments in the world It is situate in the stunning Cathedral Peak area of the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park, World Heritage Site, managed by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife. This SAEON research site is designed to enable integrated research on earth system processes; streamflow, climate and weather; soils processes; carbon cycling and biodiversity dynamics. 

Fynbos: A City in a Floral Kingdom 
06 - 08 October 2016 

Cape Town and its surrounding mountains contain the highest density of plants species in the highly diverse global biodiversity hotspot, the Cape Floristic Region.  Over 2200 species are found in the Table Mountain National Park stretching from the City centre with its iconic flat topped Table Mountain to Cape Point at the southernmost tip of the peninsula.  October, our southern Spring, offers an ideal time to visit Cape Town and experience the diversity of flora and their remarkable pollinators since many of the plants are in flower and the weather is generally mild and sunny.  With accommodation along the shores of False Bay you may be lucky enough to spot the Southern Right Whales who overwinter in this area, or you may want to pop-down to the penguin colony near Simon’s Town.

This tour will be hosted by the South African Environmental Observation Network’s (SAEON) Fynbos Node.  While visiting some of our research platforms we will provide expert insight into the diversity and ecology of this wonderful region.

Garden Route Coastline
06 - 09 October 2016

The coastline of the Garden Route is one of the main tourist attractions in South Africa. It is not only the natural beauty but also the rich human history (origin of modern humans) that captures the mind. The tour will start in Mossel Bay and travel along the coastline, crossing various breath-taking estuaries, to the Robberg Peninsula for a coastal hike, before ending the day at the Tsitsikamma National Park, the oldest Marine Protected Area in the world.  The next day will include a three hour drive through indigenous forest and fynbos to the Algoa Bay Sentinel Site for LTER, one of the best monitored coastal areas in the world. The tour of the site will include a visit to modern stromatolites, examples of coastal management in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropole, a visit to the Alexandria dunefields and ending the day at the Addo Elephant National Park, home of the Big Seven.