Original Research

Vegetation of the Witbank Nature Reserve and its importance for conservation of threatened Rocky Highveld Grassland

C.M. Smit, G.J. Bredenkamp, N. van Rooyen, A.E. van Wyk, J.M. Combrinck
Koedoe | Vol 40, No 2 | a275 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/koedoe.v40i2.275 | © 1997 C.M. Smit, G.J. Bredenkamp, N. van Rooyen, A.E. van Wyk, J.M. Combrinck | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 August 1997 | Published: 06 August 1997

About the author(s)

C.M. Smit,, South Africa
G.J. Bredenkamp, University of Pretoria, South Africa
N. van Rooyen, University of Pretoria, South Africa
A.E. van Wyk, University of Pretoria, South Africa
J.M. Combrinck,, South Africa

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Abstract

A vegetation survey of the Witbank Nature Reserve, comprising 847 hectares, was conducted. Phytosociological data were used to identify plant communities, as well as to determine alpha and beta diversities. Eleven plant communities were recognised, two of these are subdivided into sub- communities, resulting in 14 vegetation units. These communities represent four main vegetation types, namely grassland, woodland, wetland and disturbed vegetation. Grassland communities have the highest plant diversity and wetland vegetation the lowest. Floristic composition indicates that the vegetation of the Rocky Highveld Grassland has affinities to the grassland and savanna biomes and also to the Afromontane vegetation of the Great Escarpment. An ordination scatter diagram shows the distribution of the 14 plant communities or sub-communities along a soil moisture gradient, as well as along a soil depth/surface rock gradient. The sequence of communities along the soil moisture gradient is used for calculating beta-diversity indices. It is concluded that the relatively small size of the Witbank Nature Reserve is unlikely to have significant negative effects on the phytodiversity of the various plant communities. This nature reserve is therefore of considerable importance in conserving a representative sample of the Rocky Highveld Grassland.

Keywords

plant communities, conservation area. Rocky Highveld Grassland, Braun-Blanquet, biodiversity, small area, habitat size, transitional zones.

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