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Accueil du site → Doctorat → Afrique du Sud → 2020 → The extent of bush encroachment and its effects on the ecosystem services of a mixed bushveld of Makapanstad rangelands, North-West Province, South Africa

University of Pretoria (2020)

The extent of bush encroachment and its effects on the ecosystem services of a mixed bushveld of Makapanstad rangelands, North-West Province, South Africa

Mndela, Mthunzi

Titre : The extent of bush encroachment and its effects on the ecosystem services of a mixed bushveld of Makapanstad rangelands, North-West Province, South Africa

Auteur : Mndela, Mthunzi

Université de soutenance : University of Pretoria

Grade : PhD (Pasture Science) 2020

Résumé partiel
The encroachment of rangelands by woody plants causes an imbalance in the grass:bush ratio leading to decline in ecosystem services including grazing capacity, biodiversity, and water yield. This study assessed the historical changes in woody cover, and the effects of bush clearing on water loss, atmospheric carbon uptake, herbaceous vegetation, and soil seed bank (SSB) dynamics. The study was conducted at Makapanstad (Radi and Maseding) and Kgomokgomo rangelands, North-West Province, South Africa. Landsat imagery was used to assess woody cover over 34 years (1984 - 2018) in a total area of 16 397 ha. Evapotranspiration (ET) and gross primary productivity (GPP) were assessed in cleared sites and their adjacent uncleared sites from 2013 to 2018. Woody plant densities, herbaceous composition, ground cover and biomass production were assessed in 24, 5×5-m plots distributed equally in three 2500-m2 bush-encroached blocks in each rangeland in February 2016. Three samples for soil nutrient analysis were collected 20-cm deep in each plot. Thereafter, half (1250-m2) of each block was mechanically cleared to make three replicates of cleared and uncleared microsites. Post-treatment survey of vegetation was conducted in February 2017. SSB was assessed for samples collected in April 2016 before bush clearing and in August, October and December 2016, and April and August 2017 in paired microsites. In 1984, herbaceous cover (humid + arid grasslands) dominated, accounting for 36% of the total area followed by woody cover (shrublands + bushlands) and unvegetated cover (bare soils + abandoned croplands), with respective proportions of 33 and 31%. There were substantial land cover changes over time, with shrub cover increasing linearly (r2 = 0.94, p < 0.05) at a rate of 0.26% year-1, increasing the total woody cover (TWC) to 38% in 2018. Cropland abandonment was the main driver of increase in shrub cover in the study area. Herbaceous cover declined with increase in TWC (r2 = 0.69), whereas bare soil cover increased (r2 = 0.70) with TWC over time

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