Original Research

Composition and biogeography of forest patches on the inland mountains of the southern Cape

C. J. Geldenhuys
Bothalia | Vol 27, No 1 | a660 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/abc.v27i1.660 | © 1997 C. J. Geldenhuys | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 07 October 1997 | Published: 07 October 1997

About the author(s)

C. J. Geldenhuys, Division of Water, Environment and Forestry Technology, South Africa

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Patterns in species richness of 23 small, isolated forests on the inland mountains of the southern Cape were studied. Species richness of woody plants and vines of the Kouga-Baviaanskloof Forests was higher than in the western mountain complexes, where species richness in the more southern Rooiberg and Kamanassie Mountains was higher than in the Swartberg range. The Rooiberg, a dry mountain with small forests far away from the coastal source area, had more species than, and contained many species which are absent from, the larger, moister forests of the Kamanassie which are closest to the coastal source areas. Neither altitude nor distance from the source area, the forests south of the coastal mountains, nor long-distance dispersal, adequately explained the variation in species richness. The variations are best explained in terms of dispersal corridors along the Gouritz and Gamtoos River systems which connect the coastal forests with the inland mountains. The distribution patterns of four species groups in relation to the geomorphological history of the two river systems provide relative dates for the expansion and contraction of temperate forest, subtropical forest and subtropical transitional thicket in the southern Cape.


biogeography; corridors; evergreen forest; geomorphology; rare species; species-area relationship


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