Original Research

Long term effects of fire frequency and season on the woody vegetation dynamics of the Sclerocarya birrea/Acacia nigrescens savanna of the Kruger National Park

B.W. Enslin, A.L.F. Potgieter, H.C. Biggs, R. Biggs
Koedoe | Vol 43, No 1 | a206 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/koedoe.v43i1.206 | © 2000 B.W. Enslin, A.L.F. Potgieter, H.C. Biggs, R. Biggs | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 02 July 2000 | Published: 02 July 2000

About the author(s)

B.W. Enslin,
A.L.F. Potgieter,
H.C. Biggs,
R. Biggs,

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Abstract

A lack of knowledge together with vacillating fire management approaches in the Kruger National Park until the mid 1950s, gave rise to a long term fire research experiment aimed at shedding light on savanna responses to various combinations of fire fre- quencies and seasons. This trial was laid out in 1954 in four of the six major vegetation zones of the park. With the future of the experiment now being reconsidered, full scale vegetation surveys have been conducted on all the plots and compared to the surveys done in 1954. This paper examines the woody vegetation responses to fourteen fire treatments in the Knobthorn/Marula savanna. Parameters of interest were woody species composition responses, together with tree & shrub density and structural changes. The results indicate that no significant changes in woody species had occurred for the peri- od 1954 vs 1998, while density decreased on biennial and increased on triennial treatments. The proportion of single stemmed plants increased over the period. Season of burn has a marked effect on structure, with April and August burns giving rise to the largest basal areas but the lowest heights. Environmental parameters such as climate, varying herbivory and differing soils, and their respective interactions on vegetation morphology, together with fire behaviour, further influenced results.

Keywords

fire, frequency, season, vegetation dynamics, savanna, Sclerocarya birrea, Acacia nigrescens.

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Crossref Citations

1. The contribution of fire research to fire management: a critical review of a long-term experiment in the Kruger National Park, South Africa
Brian W. van Wilgen, Navashni Govender, Harry C. Biggs
International Journal of Wildland Fire  vol: 16  issue: 5  first page: 519  year: 2007  
doi: 10.1071/WF06115