On-line version ISSN 2071-0771
The need to conduct research on the impact of elephant on the environment prompted the construction of exclosures along two of the most important rivers in the Kruger National Park. Scientific research on these exclosures along the Sabie and Letaba rivers addresses how patterns of spatial and temporal heterogeneity of the riparian zone are affected by fire, flood and herbivory. To further assist this research programme, a vegetation survey was conducted at the Nkhuhlu exclosure site along the Sabie River to classify and map the vegetation of the area. This will provide baseline data to assess future changes in vegetation and floristic patterns due to small-scale environmental factors created by the presence/absence of herbivory and fire. Phytosociological data were analysed to identify plant communities and subsequent mapping units. Five plant communities, ten sub-communities and four variants were recognised and described in relation to prevailing soil forms. Differences in species richness, diversity and community structure of the plant communities are clearly articulated.
Keywords : Sabie River; biodiversity; savanna; riparian vegetation; vegetation mapping.