Diversity and Conservation of Ultramafic Flora in Swaziland

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dc.contributor.author McCallum, Donald Alexander
dc.date.accessioned 2007-02-21T12:18:22Z
dc.date.available 2007-02-21T12:18:22Z
dc.date.issued 2007-02-21T12:18:22Z
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10539/2056
dc.description Student Number : 7729948 - MSc dissertation - School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences - Faculty of Science en
dc.description.abstract As early as 1583 an ultramafic plant was described (Proctor & Woodell, 1975). Since the early 1900s a number of works documenting ultramafic vegetation in various parts of the world have been published (Proctor & Woodell, 1975). The vegetation of the Great Dyke, Zimbabwe was only described in 1965 (Wild, 1965). Much has been written since then, however. It was only as recently as 1989 that any work on ultramafic vegetation in South Africa was published (Morrey et al., 1989), possibly because ultramafic vegetation in the Barberton Greenstone Belt is not noticeably different from that of the surroundings and outcrops are much smaller than the Great Dyke. Studies since then have documented the flora of the ultramafic soils of the Barberton Greenstone Belt (BGB) (Morrey et al., 1992; Williamson, 1994; Balkwill et al., 1997; Williamson et al., 1997; Changwe & Balkwill, 2003; Williamson & Balkwill in prep.). There are around 40 larger outcrops of ultramafic soil in the BGB, the largest of which are shown in Figure 1.1, and to date 29 endemic taxa have been discovered, 5 of which hyperaccumulate Ni (Williamson & Balkwill, in prep). Using IUCN criteria 21 of these taxa have recommended conservation status in the vulnerable categories and four are data deficient. With a number of threatened taxa and scientifically interesting and potentially useful Ni hyperaccumulators on the South African part of the BGB, it was likely that there were additional endemic taxa in Swaziland or additional populations of species collected in South Africa. The ultramafic sites in Swaziland (Figure 1.2) range in altitude from 4750 m above sea level (Figure 1.3) in the south to below 2250 m in the Komati River valley (Figure 1.4), higher than the South African sites which range from 354 – 1648 m above mean sea level (Balkwill et al., 1997). The Swaziland sites thus provide an opportunity to discover the effect of altitude on the vegetation of ultramafic soils in the BGB. The higher sites are cooler than the lowveld sites, with frost at night in winter and even snow on rare occasions. Rainfall averages 127 to 152 mm per year, the highest rainfall being recorded at the higher altitudes, where frequent fog also supplements the rainfall (Compton, 1966). The Swaziland sites also show a range of topography with the lower altitude sites often situated on the slopes of mountains, but higher altitude sites comparatively level. Very little of the ultramafic area in Swaziland has any form of protection and half the area has already been lost to agriculture and forestry. A previous study (Witkowski et al., 2001) identified Kniphofia umbrina Codd. as a critically endangered ultramafic endemic. There was thus an urgent need to study the remaining ultramafic areas and document the vegetation before more of this unique and important habitat is lost, and possibly some endemic plant species too. High population growth, expanding forestry and black wattle encroachment could all impact negatively on the remaining diversity of the ultramafic areas. en
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dc.language.iso en en
dc.subject ultramafic en
dc.subject flora en
dc.subject Swaziland en
dc.subject Serpentine en
dc.subject Endemic en
dc.subject conservation en
dc.subject checklist en
dc.title Diversity and Conservation of Ultramafic Flora in Swaziland en
dc.type Thesis en


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    Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of the Witwatersrand, 1972.

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