Vegetation response to clearing of exotic invasive plants along the Sabie River, South Africa

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dc.contributor.author Garner, Richard David
dc.date.accessioned 2007-02-26T12:52:33Z
dc.date.available 2007-02-26T12:52:33Z
dc.date.issued 2007-02-26T12:52:33Z
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10539/2133
dc.description Student Number : 9202137P - MSc Dissertation - School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Studies - Faculty of Science en
dc.description.abstract The Reconstruction and Development Programme’s Mpumalanga Working for Water Programme (WWP) has cleared exotic and commercial weed species from the riverine environment since 1994. This study serves as an assessment of the impact and modification caused as a result of invasion and the subsequent clearing of the exotic vegetation on flora in the riverine zone of the Sabie River Catchment. The experimental design compares the before and after clearing effects and includes altitude and invasion intensity variables. The investigations included: in situ soil seed banks, environmental modification, vegetation structure, species diversity and effectiveness of clearing. Clearing and invasion by exotic species altered soil chemical, physical and ground cover parameters. The extent of these modifications was dependent on the extent of invasion and clearing done within the community. Clearing of exotic species however, acted as an additional disturbance to that caused by invasion. Environmental modifications that occurred with clearing and invasion within the study were positively related to percentage soil organic matter, and ground cover (soil, litter, vegetation). Invasion by exotic species alters the vegetation structure, the extent of which was directly related to the invasion intensity. The main source of vegetation structure modification is attributed to tall growing exotic species such as Eucalyptus grandis and Solanum mauritianum. Both of these species dominated the indigenous vegetation, E. grandis by expanding the upper canopy and S. mauritianum by dominating the mid canopy. Clearing of invasive vegetation resulted in an additional disturbance proportional to the extent of invasion intensity. Invasion did not result in any large changes to the vegetation at low intensity but clearing at this intensity increased the disturbance and altered the vegetation structure. Soil seed banks were limited in the number of species and dominated by two exotic species. The soil seed bank of woody species related positively to the community species richness. The total soil seed bank density did not relate to invasion intensity or clearing thereof but propagules of individual species within the soil seed banks did. The seeds of the exotic species, Acacia mearnsii and S. mauritianum, illustrated burial as prerequisite for persistence in the soil seed bank. A. mearnsii and S. mauritianum seeds were found to have half-life’s of up to 25 years and 13 months respectively. The species richness and diversity varied only marginally because of invasion and clearing. Species alpha diversity increased with clearing due to weedy and pioneer species establishment. Beta diversity effectively highlights the species turnover with clearing and invasion. Success in eradication of exotic species had mixed results. Clearing of high invasion sites was effective but in lower invasion categories a number of exotic individuals were missed. Clearing effectiveness was good for certain species such as E. grandis and Pinus patula, but poor for others such as S. mauritianum. Coppicing is a significant issue for E. grandis and S. mauritianum. The persistence of individuals (coppicing & missed individuals) coupled with very large persistent seed banks has repercussions for the clearing programme, as it may prevent effective eradication. Initially the WWP has been successful in removing exotic vegetation, however there is a failure to address the regenerative properties of some exotic species. Unless a rigid schedule of follow up clearing treatments occurs, an even larger invasion problem could exist. en
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dc.language.iso en en
dc.subject Acacia mearnsii en
dc.subject clearing en
dc.subject Eucalyptus grandis en
dc.subject exotic species en
dc.subject soil seed banks en
dc.subject regeneration en
dc.subject Solanum mauritianum en
dc.subject species diversity en
dc.subject vegetation structure en
dc.subject environmental modification en
dc.title Vegetation response to clearing of exotic invasive plants along the Sabie River, South Africa en
dc.type Thesis en


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