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Title Effects of land use and soil properties on vascular plant vegetation and biological soil crusts

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Short title Effects of land use on vegetation

Author(s) Kunz, N.S.(1); le Roux, A.(2); Schmiedel, U.(3); Wessels, D.C.J.(4); Weber, B.(1)

Presenting author Kunz, N.S.

Institution(s) (1) Plantecology and Systematics, University of Kaiserslautern; (2) Succulent Karoo Knowledge Centre, Kamieskroon; (3) Biocentre Klein Flottbek, University of Hamburg; (4) University of Limpopo

Keywords Vegetation; biological soil crusts; heuweltjies; land use; utilization

Abstract The effects of different grazing intensities under varying soil properties on both vascular plant vegetation and biological soil crusts (BSCs) were studied in the Succulent Karroo, in the vicinity of observatory No. 22 (Soebatsfontein), South Africa. It was established that utilization has a major effect on the vegetation; with local utilization being considerably more important than the overall utilization of a rangeland. Intense local utilization resulted in reduced coverage of perennial vegetation, wood litter, and climax-BSC as well as an increased coverage of annuals and geophytes. The coverage of pioneer-BSC did not differ significantly according to utilization. With regard to heuweltjies (large earth mounds created by termites), which form a dense pattern within the study area, local utilization was greater in areas off than on heuweltjies and had a greater impact on species composition off heuweltjies. Overall coverage values of perennials on and between heuweltjies showed no significant differences, whereas detrended correspondence analysis revealed that species composition was markedly different. Coverage by BSCs reached significantly higher values in the border area of heuweltjies than in the center of, or between heuweltjies. Findings of this study allow the deduction of valuable advice regarding sustainable grazing regimes in the Succulent Karoo.

Congress Topic Land use, impact and value

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Ref. No. 628