oa Koedoe : African Protected Area Conservation and Science - A geomorphic and soil description of the long-term fire experiment in the Kruger National Park, South Africa
In 1954, the experimental burning programme into fire research was initiated in the Kruger National Park (KNP), South Africa. It is viewed as one of the last remaining long term landscape fire experiments in Africa. Throughout the more than five decades of fire treatments in the experiment, numerous surveys (expanding various spatial and temporal scales), research projects (covering biotic and abiotic components) and analyses have been conducted with the aim to assess the impacts of different fire regimes on the savannah biome. The design of the experiment intended to test the effect of season and frequency of burning on vegetation within four major landscapes in the KNP. However, these effects have been partly obscured by factors not fully taken into account by the experimental design, namely, herbivory, artificial water provision and soil variation. Soil variation between replicates in the same landscape, as well as within individual replicates, has raised the issue of the representivity of the trial. This paper provided a description and ranking of the experimental burning trial according to the geomorphic and soil characteristics of each plot in comparisonto the surrounding landscape.
Conservation implications: The KNP burn plots are one of the largest and longest-running fire experiments on fire ecology in African savannahs. However, studies need to consider the underlying geomorphic and soil template when designing experiments and interpreting results. This work describes the representivity of the plots across, and within, treatments.
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