Spatial variation in vegetation and soils around artificial watering points in Hwange National Park
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Piospheres are examples of the spatial impacts animals have on their environment. They tend to develop around artificial watering points, particularly in the dry season. The present study sought to assess impactof disturbance on plant species and soils across a disturbance gradient at watering points in the Main Camp of Hwange National Park. The study was conducted around four artificial watering points (two seasonal watering points and two perennial watering points). A stratified sampling design was adopted, with woody vegetation plots systematically placed at 150 m intervals along 2 550 m long transects. Assessments of non-woody plants and soils were conducted in plots laid at 50 m interval along 2 500 m long transects. Results indicated that woody species height and basal area increased with increasing distance from watering points. Shrub species richness was highest in moderately utilised zones and woody species diversity was lowest closest to the watering points. Non-woody species cover, richness and abundance increased towards the watering points. There was no consistent relationship between distance from water and non-woody species diversity. Concentrations of nutrients were highest in the vicinity of watering points. Soil moisture was lowest close to watering points and highest in the moderate occupancy zone. Soil pH was highest close to watering points. Onlyphosphorus was significantly different between seasonal watering points and perennial watering points. No significant differences were observed between seasonal watering points and perennial watering points in terms of vegetation attributes. Results indicate the existence of spatial variation in woody vegetation structure, non-woody vegetation cover and soil nutrient status and pH around artificial watering points which is associated with an animal disturbance gradient in Hwange National Park.
artificial water sources.
natural water sources
natural watering points
Hwange National Park
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