International Journal of
Biodiversity and Conservation

  • Abbreviation: Int. J. Biodivers. Conserv.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-243X
  • DOI: 10.5897/IJBC
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 625

Full Length Research Paper

Variation in woody vegetation structure and composition in a semi-arid savanna of Southern Zimbabwe

Patience Zisadza-Gandiwa1, Lovemore Mango2, Edson Gandiwa1,3*, David Goza4, Chenjerai Parakasingwa1, Exeverino Chinoitezvi4, Julius Shimbani1 and Justice Muvengwi2
1Scientific Services, Gonarezhou National Park, Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, Private Bag 7003, Chiredzi, Zimbabwe. 2Department of Environmental Sciences, Bindura University of Science Education, Private Bag 1020, Bindura, Zimbabwe. 3Resource Ecology Group, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 47, 6700 AA, Wageningen, The Netherlands. 4Mushandike College of Wildlife Management, Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, Private Bag 9036, Masvingo, Zimbabwe.
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 24 January 2013
  •  Published: 28 February 2013

Abstract

The objectives of this study were: i) to establish the status of woody vegetation structure and composition, and ii) to determine the main factors influencing woody vegetation structure and composition across Gonarezhou National Park, Zimbabwe. We divided the park into three large strata based on natural and artificial features. A total of 137 sample plots were randomly placed to gather data on woody vegetation in the three study strata across Gonarezhou National Park from May to June 2011. Trees constituted 66% and shrubs 34% of the woody plants sampled. A total of 132 woody plant species were recorded. Significant differences were found in basal area, shrub density, browsed plants density and woody species diversity across Gonarezhou National Park. In contrast, no significant differences were recorded in tree height, densities of trees, stems, dead plants and fire damaged plants. Our results suggest that there are some variations in woody vegetation structure and composition across Gonarezhou National Park. These variations could be attributed to both natural and anthropogenic disturbance factors including elephant (Loxodonta africana Blumenbach) browsing, fires, droughts and previous tsetse fly (Glossina spp.) (Diptera: Glossinidae) eradication activities in the park.

 

Key words: Elephants, fire, Gonarezhou National Park, savannas, woody vegetation.