Hierarchy and scale: testing the long term role of water, grazing and nitrogen in the savanna landscape of Limpopo National Park (Mozambique)
2010 (English)In: Landscape Ecology, ISSN 0921-2973, E-ISSN 1572-9761, Vol. 25, no 10, 1529-1546 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
This paper compares vegetation dynamics at two sites in the savanna landscape of Limpopo National Park (PNL), Mozambique. In order to test the relationship between vegetation cover and hydrology, nutrient availability and disturbance from grazing and fire over the last 1,200 years at local (100 m2) scales, we use palaeoecological data (i.e. pollen assemblages, charcoal abundance, C/N ratio, stable isotopes and herbivore-associated spore abundance). Two pans governed by similar rainfall regimes (on average 600 mm/year) but different hydrologies are compared. Chixuludzi Pan is responsive to the Limpopo River and is more water rich than Radio Pan, which is situated in a dry landscape with little surface water. The analysis suggests that in savannas where water is scarce, the recruitment of woody taxa is constrained mainly by the availability of underground water. In the Radio Pan sequence, the present grassland savanna has been stable throughout the time studied. In contrast, the Chixuludzi Pan savanna landscape where local hydrology, due to the proximity of Limpopo River, allows for a higher water availability the relationship between grass-arboreal pollen suggests a greater variability in vegetation cover, and other factors such as grazing, herbivory and nitrogen availability are important as controlling mechanisms for woody cover. The historical depth of the analysis enables a sub-hierarchy of local scale process to be identified, in this case local hydrology. Local water availability is shown to override the effect of regional rainfall and, in turn, to control the influence of other local scale factors such as nutrients and grazing.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010. Vol. 25, no 10, 1529-1546 p.
Hierarchical patch dynamics, Savanna ecology, Pollen, Coprophilous spores, Nitrogen, Fire
Research subject Archaeology; Biology; Quarternary Geology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-129194DOI: 10.1007/s10980-010-9522-xISI: 000283371000006OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-129194DiVA: diva2:337765