A review is presented on the literature about the distribution of savannas in humid climates in Africa and Asia and their vegetation dynamics. Sections are devoted to African lowland and montane savannas (the latter divided into southern, eastern, western and northern African), Madagascar, Indian subcontinent, SE Asia and New Guinea. It is concluded that the extension of savannas under humid climatic conditions and the relation to the distribution of forests is a function of cultivation, grazing by domestic and wild animals, present and previous climate, geomorphology and soil characteristics. Once established, savannas are often maintained by fires, both natural and man-made.
Montane savannas are generally brought about by man's clearing, cultivation and burning. Fire is a stochastic variable; it creates an ecotone sensu stricto (an environmentally stochastic stress zone) at the forest/savanna border. On the other hand, if geomorphology and soil are the determinants, the transition between forest and savanna would have the character of an ecocline (a gradient zone) with fundamentally different conditions.
In humid African lowland climates forests expand into savannas if the latter are not maintained by man. Whether forests also expand in less humid climates is disputed. In montane areas forest expansion may be delayed on degraded soils and when diaspores are lacking
1992. Vol. 3, 345-356 p.