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Schmiedel, U. and Jürgens, N. 1999. Community structure on unusual habitat islands: quartz-fields in the Succulent Karoo, South Africa. Plant Ecology, 142(1-2): 57-69


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Community structure on unusual habitat islands: quartz-fields in the Succulent Karoo, South Africa.

Summary / Notes:

Quartz fields are edaphically arid, azonal habitats occurring under different macroclimatic conditions in several arid regions of southern Africa. They are the exclusive home of 142 plant species of which ca. 70% are local or regional endemics. This paper is an analysis of the quartz-field floras and growth form-soil relationships in two quartz field regions: the Knersvlakte in the Namaqualand-Namib Domain of the Succulent Karoo, and the western Little Karoo in the Southern Karoo Domain. The Knersvlakte supported 52 quartz-field specialists of which 39 were endemic to the region. Corresponding data for the Little Karoo were 11, and 10 species, respectively. In both regions, the average canopy cover on the quartz-field relevés was ca. 8%, and more than half of this comprised contracted, succulent nanochamaephytes. Cover and vegetation stature were markedly higher on adjacent zonal habitats. Quartz fields in both regions supported a similar array of compact, subglobose and subterranean nanochamaephytes, as evidenced by convergent patterns in two distantly related genera (Argyroderma N. E. Brown and Gibbaeum (Haworth) N. E. Brown, both Mesembryanthemaceae), endemic to the Knersvlakte and largely restricted to the Little Karoo, respectively. Analyses of vegetational and edaphic data of quartz fields and adjacent, zonal habitats were carried out using multivariate direct gradient analysis (Canonical Correspondence Analysis) in order to identify those factors that control the peculiar composition of growth forms on quartz fields. The results revealed highly similar patterns of growth form composition in relation to similar edaphic gradients in both regions. Keywords: Convergence, Desert growth forms, Dwarf succulents, Gradients, Multivariate gradient analysis, Winter-rainfall desert.

Year: 1999

Type: Journal Article

URL: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1023/A%3A1009818210799


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