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The Vegetation of the Ghanzi Area of Western Botswana

Monica M. Cole and R. C. Brown
Journal of Biogeography
Vol. 3, No. 3 (Sep., 1976), pp. 169-196
Published by: Wiley
DOI: 10.2307/3038009
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3038009
Page Count: 31
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The Vegetation of the Ghanzi Area of Western Botswana
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Abstract

The Ghanzi area of western Botswana is characterized by a low tree and shrub savanna which previous writers, whose field studies had been of a reconnaissance nature along the major roads, regarded as being derived from woodland which had been progressively degraded by timber cutting and burning. This paper, which is based on quantitative field and laboratory studies, distinguishes individual plant communities and shows how the distribution of each is related precisely to specific environmental factors. The life form spectra are given and the seasonal growth rhythm of individual species examined. The rooting habits of individual tree and shrub species are portrayed and the levels of major elements in plant tissues and in soils for each physiographic/geological unit are presented. The results reveal that communities of deep rooting species capable of tapping ground water and comming into leaf and flower before the summer rains characterize areas of relatively near surface bedrock whereas shallow rooted trees and shrubs which utilize vadose water and come into leaf and flower after the rains occur where there is a deep cover of Kalahari sand. In areas of relatively near surface bedrock repetitive patterns of discrete plant communities, whose distribution is related to specific lithological units within a sedimentary sequence of rocks, outline apparent fold structures characterized by drag folds and both major and minor faults on the air photographs. The relationships between the distributions of the plant communities and the interplay of environmental factors are evaluated and an assessment of the grazing potential of the area, based on these results, is offered.

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