Original Research

Towards a structural-functional classification of fynbos: a comparison of methods

P. Linder, B. M. Campbell
Bothalia | Vol 12, No 4 | a1444 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/abc.v12i4.1444 | © 1979 P. Linder, B. M. Campbell | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 November 1979 | Published: 12 November 1979

About the author(s)

P. Linder, Bolus Herbarium, University of Cape Town, South Africa
B. M. Campbell, Botany Department, University of Cape Town, South Africa

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The need for a classification of the vegetation of the fynbos region is stressed. In the present work we have evaluated some structural-functional approaches that could be used to classify and describe fynbos.  A priori and  a posteriori approaches to classification are reviewed. The a posteriori approach appears to be superior.Test data derived from 21 plots from a range of fynbos types were used to test some methods of collecting and analysing structural-functional information for an  a posteriori  classification. With respect to data collection, no single method was superior. However, a major improvement on our methodology would be possible if the growth-form system used were to be extended. The classifications that were erected were produced by means of computer-based numerical methods. These methods are essential if large data sets are to be analysed. However, the structural-functional classifications produced by numerical methods should only be regarded as working hypotheses; refinement of the classifications should proceed by intuitive methods. We feel that the a posteriori approach, even though it has its problems, will provide a suitable methodology for an ecologically meaningful classification of fynbos vegetation.


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