A first syntaxonomic description of the vegetation of the Karstveld in Namibia.


Aims: The Karstveld in Namibia has been recognized as an area of high plant diversity. However, this area is also recog nised as a hotspot of various forms of degradation including bush encroachment. Minimal baseline data on the compo sition and diversity of vegetation in this area is available, therefore this paper is a first attempt to rectify this data defi ciency. Study area: The Karstveld in Namibia is formed around the Otavi Mountain Range in northern Central Namibia, consisting of strongly karstified carbonate bedrock, rising up to 2000 m a.s.l. The Karstveld includes the Ovambo Basin plains with shallow calcrete soils north of the range, up to the Omuramba Ovambo. Because of orographic effects, the area receives some of the highest rainfall in Namibia, with up to 600 mm per year. Methods: A set of 889 relevés with 868 species was selected from the GVID ID AF-NA-001 database. A partial data set, using trees, shrubs, dwarf shrubs and grasses only, was used for the classification with modified TWINSPAN. The initial result yielded four main groups, according to which the data was split and further classified. Several vegetation types observed during field surveys were not reflected in the classification results; these were refined using Cocktail with known characteristic species. Results: The four main units represented wetlands and grasslands with six associations, a Thornbush savanna – Karstveld tran sition zone with four associations, Kalahari vegetation with four associations and the Karstveld proper with eight asso ciations. The latter are grouped together as the Terminalietea prunioides, with two orders and three alliances recognised under them. We describe 16 associations according to the ICPN. Conclusions: Although the associations presented in this paper are clearly defined, there exists a high degree of diversity within these. The Karstveld is also extraordinary species rich within the context of the arid to semi-arid Namibian environment. Taxonomic reference: Klaassen and Kwembeya (2013) for vascular plants, with the exception of the genus Acacia s.l. (Fabaceae), for which Kyalangalilwa et al. (2013) was followed. Abbreviations: ga = annual grass; gp = perennial grass; GPS = Global Positioning System, referring to a hand-held ground receiver; hl = herb layer, containing all hemicryptophytes, therophytes and geophytes, but excluding grasses (Poaceae); ICPN = International Code of Phytosociological Nomenclature (Theurillat et al. 2021); MAP = mean annual precipitation; NMS = nonmetric multidimensional scaling (Kruskal 1964); RDL = Red Data List (IUCN Species Survival Commission 2001); s1 = tall shrubs, i.e. multi-stemmed phanerophytes between 1 and 5 m; s2 = short shrubs, i.e. cha maephytes or ‘dwarf shrubs’ below 1 m; SOTER = Global and National Soils and Terrain Digital Database (FAO 1993); t1 = tall trees, > 10 m; t2 = short trees, between 5 and 10 m; t3 = low trees, i.e. single-stemmed phanerophytes between 2 and 5 m; TWINSPAN = Two Way Indicator Species Analysis (Roleček et al. 2009); WGS84 = World Geodetic System, 1984 ensemble



Braun-Blanquet, Karst vegetation, Karstveld, Modified TWINSPAN, Namibia, Otavi Mountains, syntaxonomy, Terminalietea prunioides, Vegetation classification


Strohbach, B.J. and Strohbach, M.M. (2023). A first syntaxonomic description of the vegetation of the Karstveld in Namibia. Vegetation Classification and Survey, 4, 241-284. 10.3897/VCS.99045