The effect of fire on the root carbohydrate concentration and growth of encroaching terminalia sericea in a semi-arid savanna woodland in the Waterberg plateau park, Central Namibia

Author: Lutibezi, Siphiwe Patience

Fire is an ecological disturbance that may kill or topkill woody plants and control the biomass of woody species in disturbance prone areas, thus maintaining the co-existence of trees and grasses in savanna ecosystems. Relatively recently, savannas have been altered worldwide by a phenomenon known as bush encroachment, which is the suppression of grasses by woody species due to the increase in woody biomass. Terminalia sericea is a woody encroaching species which occurs in woodland savannas on dystrophic sandy soils; it often forms dense thickets and is considered as an encroacher on the Waterberg Plateau Park. The ability of encroaching woody species to resprout after topkill by fire, particularly in savanna ecosystems, is due to the already established and functioning carbohydrate reserves stored in the roots.