Koedoe Update 2013

The latest articles published in Koedoe focus on vegetation and plant communities. Theo Mostert, author of Plant communities of the Soutpansberg Arid Northern Bushveld, describes the plant communities of this area in detail. Main ecological drivers of the vegetation structure and species composition of these communities are discussed and some conservation recommendations are made.

Eight plant communities were identified and described as Commiphora tenuipetiolata - Adansonia digitata short open woodland, Ledebouria ovatifolia-Commiphora mollis short bushland, Phyllanthus reticulatus- Acacia nigrescens short bushland, Tinnea rhodesiana-Combretum apiculatum short bushland, Dichrostachys cinerea subsp. africana-Spirostachys africana low thickets, Themeda triandra-Pterocarpus rotundifolius short closed grassland on steep basaltic slopes, Cyperus albostriatus-Syzygium cordatum sandveld wetlands, and Sesamothamnus lugardii-Catophractes alexandri tall sparse shrubland.

These plant communities are event-driven ecosystems, predominantly influenced by frequent droughts, exposure to desiccation and unpredictable rainfall events. The complex topography of the Soutpansberg further contributes to the aridity of these ecosystems. The classification and ordination analyses show similar groupings in the vegetation of the Soutpansberg Arid Mountain Bushveld.

The results from this study will alter existing regional vegetation maps profoundly. The described plant communities of these arid event-driven ecosystems should be used as benchmark examples of the region's primary vegetation. Conservation and management planning should be based on these vegetation units.

The classification, mapping and description of the vegetation of the Rooipoort Nature Reserve, Northern Cape, South Africa by Hugo Bezuidenhout is an investigation into the plant ecology of this Reserve Reserve.It came about from a need for a scientifically-based wildlife management plan and for more knowledge on vegetation.The main aim of this study was therefore to classify, describe and map the vegetation of the reserve. The floristic data were analysed according to the Braun-Blanquet procedure using the BBPC suite.

The data analysis resulted in the identification of 15 communities that can be grouped into ten major community types. This resulted in five ecology-based management units, which could assist with the compilation of an ecologically sound management plan for the reserve in order to achieve sustainable utilisation of the natural resources.The Rooipoort Nature Reserve is one of the oldest and largest private nature reserves in South Africa and as such deserves to be conserved and protected.

The riverine and pan vegetation communities are considered to be endangered and are in need of special conservation and protection.The results suggest five management units, which will assist in the compilation of an ecologically sound management plan for the RNR, in order to allow sustainable utilization of natural resources.

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