Ecosystem, Community and Species Response to Fire in Mountain Fynbos: Conclusions from the Swartboskloof Experiment

  • D. M. Richardson
  • B. W. van Wilgen
Part of the Ecological Studies book series (ECOLSTUD, volume 93)


Full appreciation of the functioning of an ecosystem requires perspectives gained at different levels. Studies of individual plants or animals, populations of single species, interactions between species and the environment within homogeneous areas, or between the biota and the environment in a landscape are all useful in this regard. The management of fynbos, however, is currently based on an understanding of the population biology of a few important species. For example, a much-quoted “rule of thumb” for determining fire frequencies in fynbos is that prescribed burns should only take place once 50% of the population of the slowest-maturing species in an area has flowered for at least three successive seasons (Kruger and Lamb 1979; Kruger 1982). This rule is usually applied to shrubs in the family Proteaceae, since these are generally the slowest to mature. Although studies have been conducted at all levels of organization in mountain fynbos (Table 15.1), community- and ecosystem-level perspectives have not been used to formulate fire management policies, nor are they incorporated in management prescriptions.


Sediment Yield Plant Species Richness Fire Regime Seed Predator Fire Intensity 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. M. Richardson
  • B. W. van Wilgen

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