Original Articles

ENVIRONMENTAL CORRELATES OF PLANT SPECIES DISTRIBUTION ON THE NYL RIVER FLOODPLAIN

DOI: 10.1080/10183469.1991.9631312
Author(s): M., A.S. CoetzeeBotany Department, South Africa, K.H. RogersBotany Department, South Africa

Abstract

The envisaged construction of a dam on a major tributary of the Nyl River will alter the hydrological regime with consequent effects on the structure and functioning of the downstream floodplain ecosystem (Nylsvley). Attempts to minimise this impact will be facilitated by knowledge of relationships between vegetation structure and key environmental variables. Historically flooding regime, and its co-variables, have been assumed to be the most important environmental factors controlling the distribution of floodplain plant species. Canonical correspondence analysis of selected soil characteristics (soil texture, electrical conductivity, pH and bulk density), elevation and plant abundance was carried out on the Nylsvley Floodplain in order to critically examine the assumption that flooding regime, measured as elevation, is the primary correlate of floodplain plant species distribution. Results indicate that, although flooding regime is the primary correlate of plant species distribution, other edaphic factors, not correlated with elevation, may play a more substantial role than earlier considered.

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