Phytosociology of the Namib Desert Park, South West Africa.
Robinson, Ernest Richard.
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The geology, topography, soils and climate of the Namib Desert Park south of 23 S. Lat. are described briefly. The vegetation was investigated using the techniques of the Zurich - Montpellier school of phytosociology. Floristic and other site data were collected from 472 sites in the standard Braun - Blanquet manner and the techniques are described in some detail. These data are presented by means of phytosociological tables and detailed descriptions of each community. A total of 34 noda, communities and sub-communities, were delimited in the study area and the floristic and ecological relationships of these are discussed. Only a few of the communities can be assigned to syntaxa from other parts of the world or southern Africa because most of the Namib Desert communities seemed too different to be compared to associations from North Africa, the Middle East, South America or Australia on more than a superficial, structural basis. Very few data from other arid or semi-arid areas in southern Africa have received formal phytosociological treatment and there is therefore insufficient material to draw meaningful comparisons. The "foam structure" described by Volk & Geyger (1970) was found to be widely distributed in soils of the plains of the Namib Desert, and it was shown to have a profound influence on water penetration. The effects on vegetation development are discussed. The study generated a number of questions about the vegetation and ecosystems of the Namib Desert and some recommendations are made concerning future synecological and autecological studies. A list of species and synonyms of the names of all higher plants recorded in the study area are given in Appendix I. It is concluded that the Braun - Blanquet method is efficient in terms of time required to collect data which can be used for a number of purposes, but that a classification of vegetation ' should be followed up by autecological and detailed synecological studies of species (particularly those which characterize communities) and individual communities to determine the controlling factors more precisely and to enable more accurate predictions concerning the effects of management programmes to be made.
- Masters Degrees (Botany)