Periodic drought effects on afrotemperate forests in the Southern Cape of South Africa

Jooste, Guillaume Hendrik Christiaan (2015-04)

Thesis (MSc)--Stellenbosch University, 2015.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Understanding the effects of climate change is one of the cardinal issues within the natural resource management circles. Increased droughts are part of these changes. Afrotemperate forests, as well as their drier Afromontane counterparts suffer from periodic and seasonal droughts respectively. To better understand the effect of droughts on these forests, three key species namely Olea capensis (Iron wood), Podocarpus latifolius (Common Yellow wood) and Pterocelastrus tricuspidatus (Candle wood), were analysed using dendroecologic techniques. Two sites in the Southern Cape were selected according to a West-to-East moisture gradient, with the drier site being close to George and the medium moist site at the Diepwalle estate in the vicinity of Knysna. Growth ring measurements from each of the species were used to calculate basal area and basal area increment during the lifetime of the trees. Drought years for the sites were then selected based on the Standardised Precipitation and Evapotranspiration Index (SPEI), also indicated by the growth during the drought periods. Differences in growth patterns for all three species were observed. An event analysis was then used to quantify the difference in the resistance (Rt), recovery (Rc), resilience (Rs) and relative resilience (RRs). With values standardised around one (Rt, Rc and Rs) and zero (RRs), it was seen that the Candle wood had the highest (~0.92) resistance and the Yellow wood had the highest (~1.3) recovery after the drought. Iron wood stood apart from the other two species in the sense that it only reacted negatively towards the drought one year after the event in most cases. It was concluded that each of the species were significantly different in their reactions towards drought. This specific difference in drought reaction can give way to the possibility that the species together adapted to relieve the stress of a short drought by splitting the available resources over a longer period.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Dit is van uiterse belang vir bestuur doeleindes om die veranderende klimaat oor die wêreld te verstaan, insluitend die droogtes wat daarmee gepaard gaan. Die Afrotemperate woud-tipe, asook sy droeër teenstaander, die Afromontane, lei gereeld aan sporadiese en seisonale droogtes. Om hierdie woud-tipe se reaksie tot droogtes beter te verstaan, was drie boom spesies naamlik Ysterhout (Olea capensis), Kershout (Pterocelastrus tricuspidatus) en gewone Geelhout (Podocarpus latifolius), gekies vir die gebruik in ‘n dendro-ekologiese studie. Twee areas was gekies van ‘n wes-tot-oos droogte gradient, met die droeër blok in die George omgewing en die meer vogtige een naby aan Knysna. Die jaarring metings van elke boom was gebruik om beide die basale oppervlakte en die basale oppervlak groei per jaar aan te teken. ‘n Gestandardiseerde reenval en evapotranspirasie indeks (SPEI) was gebruik om vas te stel jare waarin matige tot sterk droogtes gebeur het. Hierdie gekose jare het aanduiding gegee dat daar wel ‘n verskil waargeneem was in die groei patrone van elke spesie gedurende die droogtes. ‘n Gebeurtenis analise is gebruik om ‘n kwantitatiewe verskil te kon sien in die weerstand (Rt), herstel (Rc), weerstandbiedendheid (Rs) en relatiewe weerstandbiedendheid (RRs). Die was waargeneem dat Kerhout die hoogste weerstand (0.92) toon, terwyl die Geelhout ‘n hoër herstel waarde (1.3) gehad het. Ysterhout het apart van die ander twee spesies gestaan in dìe dat dit eers een jaar na die droogte ‘n reaksie getoon het teenoor die droogte. Dit was dus gevind dat daar spesifieke verskil is tussen al drie van die spesies teen opsigte van stres reaksies was. Hierdie verskil kan dan wel ook moontlik aandui dat hierdie spesies en woud-tipe op so ‘n anier aangepas is dat dit die stress gedurende ‘n kort droogte versprei oor ‘n langer tydperk.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/96834
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