Virgilia divaricata may facilitate forest expansion in the afrotemperate forests of the southern Cape, South Africa

Koedoe - African Protected Area Conservation and Science


 
 
Field Value
 
Title Virgilia divaricata may facilitate forest expansion in the afrotemperate forests of the southern Cape, South Africa
 
Creator Coetsee, Corli Wigley, Benjamin J.
 
Subject Conservation, Ecosystem ecology afrotemperate forest, fire, nitrogen, soils, Virgilia divaricata
Description Virgilia divaricata is a fast-growing nitrogen-fixing tree species often found on the margins of forest in the southern Cape of South Africa and is particularly abundant after fire. However, V. divaricatamay invade fynbos even in the absence of fire and it has been described as a forest precursor. We investigated whether V. divaricata enriches soil fertility after its invasion into fynbos areas adjacent to forests. We measured soil organic carbon and soil nutrients at four sites. At each site, three vegetation types (forest, V. divaricata and fynbos) were examined on the same soil type and at the same elevation. Our results showed that, on average, soils taken from V. divaricata stands had higher nitrogen and phosphorus values than the adjacent fynbos soils, with either lower or similar values to the adjacent forest soils. Higher soil fertility under V. divaricata, together with their shading effect, may create conditions favourable for shade-loving forest species dependent on an efficient nutrient cycle in the topsoil layers, and less favourable for shade-hating fynbos species, which are generally adapted to low soil fertility. We suggest that the restoration of the nutrient cycle found in association with forest may be accelerated under V. divaricata compared with other forest precursor species, which has important consequences for the use of V. divaricata in ecosystem restoration.Conservation implications: Alien plantations in the Outeniqua Mountains are being phased out and the areas are being incorporated into the Garden Route National Park. Fynbos areas are increasingly being invaded by forest and thicket species owing to fire suppression in lower-lying areas. An improved understanding of the fynbos–forest boundary dynamics will aid in efficient management and restoration of these ecosystems.
 
Publisher AOSIS Publishing
 
Contributor NMMU
Date 2013-07-15
 
Type info:eu-repo/semantics/article info:eu-repo/semantics/publishedVersion — Site and plot sampling
Format text/html application/octet-stream text/xml application/pdf
Identifier 10.4102/koedoe.v55i1.1128
 
Source Koedoe; Vol 55, No 1 (2013); 8 pages 2071-0771 0075-6458
 
Language eng
 
Relation https://koedoe.co.za/index.php/koedoe/article/view/1128/1501 https://koedoe.co.za/index.php/koedoe/article/view/1128/1502 https://koedoe.co.za/index.php/koedoe/article/view/1128/1503 https://koedoe.co.za/index.php/koedoe/article/view/1128/1500
 
Coverage South Africa; forests — Soil sampling
Rights Copyright (c) 2013 Corli Coetsee, Benjamin J. Wigley https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0