Communities of the Blouberg Nature Reserve

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Phytosociology and Conservation

Humans have transformed almost half of the world’s ice-free land surface area into agricultural and urban systems (Chapin et al. 2000). These changes in species composition and ecosystem functioning alter the resistance and resilience of ecosystems to environmental change (Reyers 2003). Such alterations also impact on ecosystem services, such as water storage and purification, reduction of radiation and the control of green-house gasses, upon which humans depend for survival (Kunin & Lawton 1996; McCann 2000; Henns & Nath 2003; Barber 2003).

The need for conservation and vegetation studies in the Soutpansberg and Blouberg area

The establishment of conservation areas and biosphere reserves are widely used in order to reduce anthropogenic threats to ecosystem form and function (Margules and Pressey 2000; Fairbanks et al. 2001). The Soutpansberg Conservancy (SC) and the Blouberg Nature Reserve (BNR) are examples of such conservation areas. Numerous scientists and conservationists have emphasized the biological importance of the Soutpansberg and Blouberg Mountain Ranges (Van Wyk & Smith 2001; Hahn 2002; Berger et al. 2003; Hahn 2006).

Aims of the study

The aim of ecological studies on ecosystems is to understand the complex interactions between the various components. In order to reduce the complexity of such a system, one often needs to start by understanding its individual components. However, it is paramount to remember that communities have collective properties, and that the nature of a community is more than just the sum of its constituent species (Begon et al. 1996). Oversimplification of the system components leads to overly simplified theoretical explanations with no practical value for projections and predictions within the complexity of ecosystems. The level of complexity at which the researcher studiesa particular community is scale dependant.

STUDY AREA  

The BNR (7000 ha) and SC (100 000 ha) are located in the arid northern regions of the Limpopo Province of South Africa (Figure 1). For the purpose of this study, the SC is defined as a section of the Soutpansberg Mountain Range contained by four provincial and national roads. The eastern boudary (E29º55’) is the N1 from Makhado in the south to Wyllies Poort in the north. The northern boundary (S 22º52’) is the R523 road from Wyllies Poort in the east to Kalkheuwel in the west. The western boundary (E29º15’) is the R521 road from Kalkheuwel in the north to Vivo in the south. The southern boundary (S23º12’) is the R522 road from Vivo in the west to Makhado in the east. From east to west it spans approximately 70 km and from north to south approximately 25 km at it’s widest.

Topography

The SC and BNR are part of the Blouberg–Soutpansberg Mountain Range, with it’s ENE–WSW orientation (Figure 2). Although the Blouberg and Soutpansberg belong to the same geological formation they are referred to as separate entities. Successive faulting along the Tshamuvhudzi, Kranspoort, Nakab and Zoutpan strike-faults, followed by the northwards tilting of the area, created these quartzite mountains within the surrounding Limpopo Plain.

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List of Tables and Figures
Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: The study area
Location
Topography
Climate
Soutpansberg Centre of Biological Diversity
Chapter 3: Methods
Introduction
Analytical phase
Synthetic phase
Mapping
Limitations on fieldwork and data analysis
Chapter 4: Major Vegetation Types of the Blouberg Nature Reserve and Soutpansberg Conservancy
Abstract
Introduction
Study Area
Methods
Results
Description of Major Vegetation Types
1. Eragrostis lehmanniana–Sclerocarya birrea BNR Northern Plains Bushveld
2. Euclea divinorum–Acacia tortilis BNR Southern Plains Bushveld
3. Englerophytum magalismontanum–Combretum molle BNR Mountain Bushveld
4. Adansonia digitata–Acacia nigrescens Soutpansberg Arid Northern Bushveld
5. Catha edulis–Flueggia virosa Soutpansberg Moist Mountain Thickets
6. Diplorhynchus condylocarpon–Burkea africana Soutpansberg Leached Sandveld
7. Rhus rigida–Rhus magalismontanum Soutpansberg Mistbelt Vegetation
8. Xymalos monospora–Rhus chirendensis Soutpansberg Forest Vegetation
Ordination
Conclusion
References
Chapter 5: Communities of the Blouberg Nature Reserve
Introduction
Vegetation classification
Community description
1. Eragrostis lehmanniana–Sclerocarya birrea BNR Northern Plains Bushveld
1.1. Spirostachys africana–Sclerocarya birrea subsp caffra community
1.2. Solanum panduriforme–Sclerocarya birrea subsp caffra community
1.3. Terminalia prunioides–Sclerocarya birrea subsp caffra community
2. Euclea divinorum–Acacia tortilis BNR Southern Plains Bushveld
2.1. Acacia nilotica–Acacia tortilis community
2.2. Combretum apiculatum–Acacia tortilis community
2.3. Rhus leptodictya–Acacia tortilis community
3. Englerophytum magalismontanum–Combretum molle BNR Mountain Bushveld
3.1. Pseudolachnostylis maprouneifolia–Combretum molle community
3.2. Hyperacanthus amoenus–Combretum molle community
Conclusion
Chapter 6: Soutpansberg Arid Northern Bushveld
Introduction
Vegetation classification
Community description
Adansonia digitata–Acacia nigrescens Soutpansberg Arid
Northern Bushveld Major Vegetation Type
1. Commiphoro tenuipetiolatae–Adansonietum digitatae
2. Ledebourio ovatifoliae–Commiphoretum mollii
3. Phyllantho reticulati–Acacietum nigrescentis
4. Tinneo rhodesianae–Combretetum apiculati
5. Dichrostachyo cinereae–Spirostachyetum africani
6. Themedo triandrae–Pterocarpetum rotundifolii
7. Cypero albostriati–Syzygietum cordatum
8. Sesamothamno lugardii–Catophractetum alexandri
Ordination
Chapter 7: Soutpansberg Moist Mountain Thickets
Introduction
Vegetation classification
Community description
Catha edulis–Flueggia virosa Soutpansberg Moist Mountain
Thickets Major Vegetation Type
1. Euphorbio ingentis–Cathetum edulis
2. Bridelio micranthae–Carissetum edulis
3. Cussonio natalensis–Acacietum karroo
4. Olea europaeae–Buddlejetum salviifoliae
Ordination
Discussion
Chapter 8: Soutpansberg Leached Sandveld
Introduction
Vegetation classification
Community description
Diplorhynchus condylocarpon–Burkea africana Soutpansberg
Leached Sandveld Major Vegetation Type
1. Myrothamno flabellifolii–Hexalobetum monopetali
2. Burkeo africanae–Pseudolachnostylietum
maprouneifoliae
3. Terminalio sericea–Burkeetum africanae
4. Androstachyetum
Ordination
Chapter 9: Soutpansberg Mistbelt Vegetation
Introduction
Vegetation classification
Community description
Rhus rigida var. rigida–Rhus magalismontanum subsp. coddii
Soutpansberg Cool Mistbelt Major Vegetation Type
1. Viteco rehmannii–Syzygietum legatti
2. Heteropyxo natalensis–Combretetum mollis
3. Proteo caffrae–Setarietum sphacelatae
4. Cypero albostriati–Pennisetetum glaucocladii
Ordination
Forests of the Soutpansberg Conservancy
Xymalos monospora–Rhus chirendensis Western Soutpansberg
Forest Major Vegetation Type
1. Acacio ataxacanthae–Rhoetum chirindensis
2. Rapaneo melanophloei–Rhoetum chirindensis
3. Ocoteo kenyensis–Xymaloetum monosporae
4. Diospyro whyteanae–Widdringtonietum nodiflorae
Ordination
Syntaxonomic summary of the plant communities of the Blouberg Nature
Reserve and Soutpansberg Conservancy
Conclusion
Conservation and Management recommendations
The need for a holistic focus on vegetation classification
Acknowledgements
References

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Vegetation ecology of the Soutpansberg and Blouberg Area in the Limpopo Province

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