Biomes in South Africa

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Biomes in South Africa

By | May 2013
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Climate, vegetation and fire influence positive and/or negative actions imposed on one another. Climate affects vegetation by means of any form of precipitation (rain, snow, fog, etc). Climate also affects the different types of vegetations that will burn after long periods or seasonally due to the variables of precipitation. Fires can be caused through natural impacts or through human endeavors. Fires usually arise after long dry hot periods in windy weather when humidity is relatively low. Under such extreme conditions intense fires occur. These fires can spread to far distances with burning everything in its path. Lightning is another natural way to cause fire. Human activities in contrast either deliberately or unintentionally ignite fires. With respect to the deliberate fuelling of fires, certain biomes require fire to germinate and adapt to living under these conditions, therefore humans have to ignite fires to maintain the routine of fire in fire-scarce biomes.

The biomes of South Africa that fire plays the most important role in are the Fynbos, Savanna, and Grassland biomes. There are four other biomes that rarely burn. Fire is the most important in the Fynbos biome; the reasons will be touched upon in the following paragraph.

Fynbos (fine-leaved bush) biome

This biome describes evergreen scrublands with a deficiency in trees and grasses. There are two major types of vegetation: Fynbos and Renosterveld. There is high endemism of 80%. The range of the mean annual precipitation is between 250-800mm. Due to the high rainfall occurrence fires are then important to allow for the specific fynbos vegetation growth. There are several factors influencing fire dynamics in fynbos: global warming, grazing practices, and fire management. Fynbos must burn between 6 and 46 years of age in order to uphold its plant species. With the above said, plants have become adapted to two ways in which to manage fires: re-seeders or re-sprouters. Re-seeders are mostly...

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