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Bond, W., Midgley, G.F. and Woodward, F. 2003. What controls South African vegetation-climate or fire? South African Journal of Botany, 69(1): 79-91


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What controls South African vegetation-climate or fire?

Summary / Notes:

The role of fire in determining biome distribution in South Africa has long been debated. Acocks labelled veld types that he thought were 'fire climax' as 'false'. He hypothesised that their current extent was due to extensive forest clearance by Iron Age farmers. We tested the relative importance of fire and climate in determining ecosystem characteristics by simulating potential vegetation of South Africa with and without fire using a Dynamic Global Vegetation Model (DGVM). The simulations suggest that most of the eastern half of the country could support much higher stem biomass without fire and that the vegetation would be dominated by trees instead of grasses.

Year: 2003

Type: Journal Article

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