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Über dieses Buch

This book highlights classification patterns and underlying ecological drivers structuring the vegetation of selected indigenous subtropical forests in South Africa. It uses original field sampling and advanced numerical data analysis to examine three major types of forest – Albany Coastal Forests, Pondoland Coastal Scarp and Eastern Scarp – all of which are of high conservation value. Offering a unique and systematic assessment of South African ecology in unprecedented detail, the book could serve as a model for future vegetation surveys of forests not only in Africa, but also around the globe.



Chapter 1. Classifying Subtropical Forests of South Africa: Rationale and Objectives

This chapter features the motivation and rationale underpinning the survey of selected types of the South African indigenous forests. It presents the main (and subsidiary) objectives of this exercise, including collection of new field data and the classification of the forest vegetation into forest subtypes and habitat-level communities. Three forest types, such as Albany Coastal Forests, Pondoland Scarp Forests, and Eastern Scarp Forests have been chosen to be featured in this study.
Ladislav Mucina

Chapter 2. Classifying Subtropical Forests of South Africa: Data Sources and Methods

This chapter describes standard protocol for vegetation surveys in forests, focused on the identification and description of forest plant communities (and their groupings). The protocol uses spatial data on the distribution of forests as basis for the selection of targeted sampling sites, the methodology of the field vegetation (and environment) sampling, the procedures aimed at numerical data analysis, and the tools of the formal description of vegetation types in forests.
Ladislav Mucina, Lubomír Tichý, Adriaan van Niekerk

Chapter 3. Forest Classification: Data-Analytical Experiments on Vertical Forest Layering and Flattened Data

In this chapter, we test whether the structural completeness (data stratified into structural layers—tree, shrub, herbaceous, epiphytes) in species-rich subtropical forests impacts on classification outcome. We manipulated a well-structured (multi-layered) data set by successive removing structural layers. We have found that the herbaceous layer (E1) and the epiphytic synusia (E0) do not play an important role in classification of the subtropical forests. Besides obligatory sampling the tree layer, it appears that sampling the complete shrub layers (E2α and E2β) layers is crucial, both for classification as well as for production of functional expert system.
Ladislav Mucina, Lubomír Tichý

Chapter 4. Classification of the Albany Coastal Forests

Albany Coastal Forests are subtropical vegetation type occurring in the western part of the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. Alexandria Forest is the largest complex of forest patches of this type. Smaller, numerous patches of the Albany forests occur in deeply incised valleys of the rivers in the Albany region. These forests are in contact with the matrix zonal vegetation of the subtropical Albany thickets. This chapter reports on survey (based on full-floristic vegetation plots) of these forests and the classification which yielded six forest (habitat-level) communities, grouped into three Forest Subtypes. The major tree dominants in these forests are Celtis africana, Afrocarpus falcatus, Mimusops obovata, Erythrina caffra, Apodytes dimidiata, Maytenus undata and Sideroxylon inerme. Canonical correspondence analysis was used to characterise major environmental drivers underpinning the revealed vegetation patterns. An identification key assisting in field recognition of forest subtypes and communities is also presented.
Ladislav Mucina, Anthony P. Dold, Lubomír Tichý, Adriaan van Niekerk

Chapter 5. Classification of Pondoland Scarp Forests

The Pondoland Scarp Forests (limited to the Wild Coast of the Eastern Cape Province and southwestern seaboards of KwaZulu-Natal) are probably the most valuable forest type of South Africa due to the relict character of the current extent and high plant endemism. This chapter present the first classification of the forest communities of this canyon-dominated region. Seven habitat-level communities have been recognised on basis of 47 full-floristic relevés. They have been grouped into three forest subtypes, reflecting the geographic position (Port St Johns vs Umtamvuna-Oribi area) as well as gradients strongly linked to topography. These forests are typical subtropical forests, very complex in structural terms, and also species rich. They deserve focused protection in greater extent than they are enjoying today.
Ladislav Mucina, Anthony Abbott, Lubomír Tichý

Chapter 6. Classification of the Eastern Scarp Forests

This chapter brings the first comprehensive classification of the Eastern Scarp Forest. These are very fragmented and relictual forests, structurally complex, rich in tropical elements as well as species of conservation and horticultural value. Nearly all play an important cultural role for the local communities and deserve formal protection. Sixteen habitat-level communities, classified into eight forest subtypes were recognised. The floristic and geographical data support a move to split the Eastern Scarp Forest (type) into two new forest types, i.e. KwaZulu-Natal Scarp and Northern Scarp.
Ladislav Mucina, Mervyn C. Lötter, Lubomír Tichý, Stefan J. Siebert, C. Robert Scott-Shaw

Chapter 7. Lessons for a Forest Vegetation Survey

This chapter summarizes the new insights on how to do a forest vegetation survey under particular conditions defined by aims, traditions, and local conditions. It addresses the issues of the logistics of field sampling, detail of the field surveys, handling legacy (historical) data, pitfalls of numerical data-analyses, problems of modelling the distribution of vegetation types, vagaries of interpretations of the revealed vegetation patterns, and presentation of the outcomes.
Ladislav Mucina
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