The conservation status of subtropical transitional thicket, and regeneration through seeding of shrubs in the Xeric succulent thicket of the Eastern Cape

La Cock, Graeme Dennis (1992) The conservation status of subtropical transitional thicket, and regeneration through seeding of shrubs in the Xeric succulent thicket of the Eastern Cape. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.

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Abstract

The historically poorly conserved subtropical transitional thicket (STT) of the Eastern Cape is overutilised by domestic stock and game in the more xeric areas, and has shown no signs of recovery from this grazing pressure. It has been postulated that no regeneration through seeding occurs. This project was undertaken to determine: 1) how much STT has disappeared between 1950 and present, and what the current conservation status is; and 2) whether regeneration of the xeric succulent thicket is taking place through seeding, and if so, where. The study was conducted at the Andries Vosloo Kudu Reserve near Grahamstown. Approximately one-third less STT was mapped in this study, based on 1981 Landsat images, than was mapped in 1950. Approximately 10 % of all remaining STT is conserved. The order Kaffrarian thicket is poorly conserved. Newly germinated seedlings of a wide range of shrub species occurred under the canopies of a wide range of shrubs which served as nurse plants, throughout a gradient of veld condition. Seedlings of Portulacaria afra, the dominant shrub in xeric succulent thicket, were most common. Similarly all saplings recorded in a survey of saplings were associated with bushclumps. One-third of all saplings have the potential to contribute to the spread of bushclumps. Regeneration of xeric succulent thicket through seeding probably does occur, contrary to current ideas. Ptareoxylon obliquum was the most common sapling, despite mature trees now being scarce following earlier heavier utilisation . P. obliquum was also the nurse plant which supported the highest density of newly germinated seedlings. The possible role of P. obliquum in the functioning of xeric succulent thicket is discussed. The confinement of seedlings and saplings to areas under the canopies of trees and shrubs implies that the xeric succulent thicket will not recover rapidly if allowed to rest. Active management techniques will be necessary if rapid recovery is required. Bare areas between bushclumps may no longer be suitable germination habitats because of high Al concentrations. There was no evidence to support the idea that germination and establishment of shrubs in clear areas is linked to episodic climatic events. Dung middens of recently reintroduced black rhinoceros may however aid in germination of seeds and establishment of seedlings under certain climatic conditions. Recommendations for further studies, based on the findings of this project, are made. Possible management techniques aimed at the rapid recovery of this veld are suggested, and management proposals for the Sam Knott Nature Reserve/Andries Vosloo Kudu Reserve complex are made.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Subtropical transitional thicket, Andries Vosloo Kudu Reserve, Eastern Cape, South Africa, Xeric areas, Conservation status, Regeneration, Portulacaria afra, Seedlings, Ptareoxylon obliquum, Management, Techniques, Proposals
Subjects:Q Science > QK Botany
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Science > Botany
Supervisors:Lubke, Roy
ID Code:4201
Deposited By: Philip Clarke
Deposited On:07 Dec 2012 06:21
Last Modified:07 Dec 2012 06:21
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