|Hassler, S; Kreyling, J; Beierkuhnlein, C; Eisold, J; Samimi, C; Wagenseil, H; Jentsch, A: Vegetation pattern divergence between dry and wet season in a semiarid savanna - spatio-temporal dynamics of plant diversity in northwest Namibia, Journal of Arid Environments, 74, 1516-1524 (2010)|
African savannas are primarily used as pastures and are subject to changes in climate and management strategies. For sustainable management of these landscapes ecological knowledge on seasonal and long-term variability in plant community composition and the availability of green biomass is essential. In this study, we assessed the effects of dry and wet season on species richness and beta diversity for three sites along a gradient of increasing vegetation cover and precipitation in northwest Namibia. A hexagonal systematic sampling design was used to record floristic data. The Simple Matching, Soerensen, and multi-plot similarity coefficient and distance decay analyses were applied for examining beta diversity. Analyses were repeated while separating the plots according to the presence of woody vegetation. Species richness nearly doubled from dry to wet season; compositional similarity increased from dry to wet season and with increasing aridity of the study sites; distance decay was more pronounced in the dry season without any link to the precipitation gradient. Woody elements in the landscape, which occur along drainage lines or as tree islands, govern spatial and seasonal plant diversity fluctuations. Monitoring them is important for conservation strategies and for establishing grazing rules that ensure a sustainable use of savanna ecosystems.