Plant community diversity in the Chobe Enclave, Botswana: Insights for functional habitat heterogeneity for herbivores

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Serval ID
serval:BIB_AD60EAD86CBE
Type
Article: article from journal or magazin.
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Publications
Institution
Title
Plant community diversity in the Chobe Enclave, Botswana: Insights for functional habitat heterogeneity for herbivores
Journal
Koedoe
Author(s)
Vittoz Pascal, Pellacani Federico, Romanens Rémy, Mainga Ali, Verrecchia Eric P., Fynn Richard W. S.
Publication state
Published
Issued date
21/10/2020
Volume
62
Number
1
Pages
a1604
Language
english
Abstract
Precise vegetation descriptions and maps are essential tools for the management of natural areas, as well as for understanding animal habitat use. The Chobe Enclave (CE), adjacent to the Chobe National Park and the Chobe Forest Reserve, forms a critical dry season range for many large herbivores. As a tool for future management and studies about wildlife habitat use and migration, this study proposed to describe the plant communities in the CE and to study their relationships with microtopography and soils. Plant species were inventoried in 82 sampling plots (40 x 20 m), covering the vegetation diversity recognised by an unsupervised classification (Landsat images, 30-m resolution). A hierarchical clustering classified the inventories in eight plant communities, mapped with a supervised classification. This study was conducted in parallel with a soil study. Soil variations and degree of flooding largely determine community composition. Floodplains along the Linyanti River and dambos (concentrating local run off from rainfall) provide reliable green forage for wildlife during the dry season. Adjacent to floodplains, riverine forests also maintain green browse and grazing well into the dry season. In drylands, vegetation is largely determined by soil texture. Forests dominated by Baikiaea plurijuga occupy the acidic, red sands in the east, while sandveld vegetation grows on deep sands in paleo-river channels. These habitats support dominant grasses, which provide important forage for grazers during the wet season. Finally, woodlands dominated by Colophospermum mopane, characterised by sodium-rich and alkaline soils, enable herbivores to meet their mineral requirements during reproduction.
Conservation implications: Our soil and vegetation studies provide important insights into factors determining plant communities. Their diversity and close vicinity play a critical role in enabling herbivores to adapt to seasonal variations in forage quantity and quality. Results will enable researchers to gain insights into animal habitat seasonal use in the Chobe Enclave.
Keywords
plant community ecology, vegetation map, soil, water availability, microtopography
Create date
21/10/2020 14:34
Last modification date
22/10/2020 6:09
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