oa Botswana Notes & Records - The possible effects of millipedes on the nutrient dynamics of an acacia savanna woodland

Volume 26, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0525-5090



The study involved a field experiment that was primarily designed to find out whether millipedes had any effect on nutrient dynamics and subsequent primary production, by manipulating their abundance through enclosures and exclosures. Results were subjected to 2-way analysis of variance (2-way ANOV A) to determine the relative effects of the various treatments. These treatments included absence or presence of millipedes, and nutrient addition; fertiliser, high quality ""litter"" (commercial dog food), and the control. Two-way analysis of variance was carried out on results of plant biomass production, percentage cover for both above-ground material and surface litter, relative growth rate of three plant species (Kalanchoe rotunifolia, Aloe grandidentata and Tragus berteronianus), and also species composition. However, no significant statistical differences between the various treatments were realised in all measurement variables. The only positive result of millipede presence was in increasing species composition even though the differences were not significant. The lack of significant results could be attributed to sampling errors, low replication (essentially 3 replicates per treatment), stochastic events, and especially the profound activity of termites that could have had a buffering effect on millipede-induced effects on nutrient dynamics. Of much significance was the high incidence of mortality observed in enclosures during the experiment, despite efforts to provide refugia.

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