Extent to which soil properties contribute to oak (Quercus oleoides Schltdl. & Cham.) distribution within the lowland savannas of Belize

Trevaskis, Alex (2010) Extent to which soil properties contribute to oak (Quercus oleoides Schltdl. & Cham.) distribution within the lowland savannas of Belize. Technical Report.

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    Ideas about biodiversity conservation and sustainable development have recently permeated public consciousness, influencing research funding bodies and consequently providing many opportunities for research in areas that may help inform policy and legislation on such issues. Whilst man has benefited greatly from a deeper understanding of ecological function in a number of ecosystems such as rainforests, other ecosystems such as savannas have received relatively little attention and thus informed conservation and management decisions for these vegetation types is lacking. It is known that savannas can differ greatly in vegetation structure, species composition and distribution, yet little is known about the determinants that influence the observed patterns in biodiversity of savannas. Research carried out on savannas over the past few decades seems to highlight four key determining factors that govern the distribution of this ecosystem; water, nutrients, fire and herbivory. Human activity also plays a major role through manipulation of fire and herbivory regimes. Attempts have been made to move towards a more unified theory of savanna ecosystem function and these would benefit greatly from further field investigation that improves our basic understanding of the savanna ecosystem. One line of research which has received little attention is that regarding the effect of soil properties on species distribution. Such research will help inform future developments in policy, directing effective conservation and management of these ecosystems as biodiversity refuges and for sustainable yet viable local industries. The lowland savannas of Belize where chosen to conduct such research because of the long-term involvement of the University of Edinburgh and the RBGE in related research in the country, as well as the potential for such research to contribute to current Darwin initiatives focused on flouristic diversity as a basis for conservation. The question of which factors govern oak distribution emerged as an interesting issue as part of a wider exploration of savanna subtypes. More specifically, we looked for a relationship between percentage white oak (Quercus oleoides) cover and selected soil properties that are believed to influence vegetation structure and composition in the lowland savannas of northern Belize, Central America . The hypothesis that oak domination is limited by substantial clay content impeding drainage was tested.

    Item Type: Technical Reports (Technical Report)
    Related URLs:
      Publisher: Unknown
      Subjects: (C) Ecosystems > (CC) Terrestrial > (CCB) Savanna
      (Z) Other or Unspecified
      Publication Sources: (3) Other Source > (3D) Other or Unspecified
      Date Deposited: 19 Jun 2013 15:38
      Last Modified: 19 Jun 2013 15:38
      URI: http://eprints.uberibz.org/id/eprint/1359

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