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The Vegetation of the Karamoja District, Uganda: An Illustration of Biological Factors in Tropical Ecology

A. S. Thomas
Journal of Ecology
Vol. 31, No. 2 (Dec. 4, 1943), pp. 149-177
DOI: 10.2307/2256546
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2256546
Page Count: 38
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The Vegetation of the Karamoja District, Uganda: An Illustration of Biological Factors in Tropical Ecology
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Abstract

1. A brief description is given of the topography, soils and pastoral inhabitants of Karamoja, a large district in the north-east of Uganda. 2. The plant communities of the district and their more important constituents are enumerated. In short, these communities consist of open grassland on the plains in the south and west and of woodland around the mountains; near the centres of settlement in the east, the grasslands and woodlands are replaced by thickets. The zones of vegetation on the mountains are described as woodlands, forests, shrubby moorland and grassy moorland. 3. It is pointed out that the rainfall of the open plains, where grasses are the dominant plants, is less than that of the eastern valleys where the thickets are dominated by deciduous shrubs, many of which are very thorny, and by succulent plants. 4. The influence of settlement, cultivation and grazing on the vegetation and the soil are discussed. The surface of the soil in the thickets has been so compacted by the trampling of animals that water cannot penetrate and, in spite of the considerable rainfall, the plants are growing under very dry conditions; therefore it is not surprising that the dominant species are xerophilous. In addition to the physical effect of compaction, the chemical effect of the concentration of plant nutrients is mentioned; the distribution of some species typical of Karamoja thickets appears to be influenced by the concentration of bases in the soil. 5. Biological factors in relation to the ecology of tropical Africa are discussed, especially in relation to the effects of termites, of game animals and of man; little is known about the interaction of these factors and of the magnitude of their cumulative effects.

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