Disturbance and the frequency of root suckering in an invasive savanna shrub, Dichrostachys cinerea
AbstractThe ecology of clonal species has rarely been studied in savannas. Dichrostachys cinerea, a common invasive shrub in southern African savannas, forms root suckers. This paper examines the effect of disturbance type and frequency on this form of clonal spread. Small plants were excavated (n = 370) at 11 sites exposed to different fire frequencies and grazing intensities and classified were as either seedlings or root suckers. Most of the plants (55%) were found to be root suckers. There was no significant effect of disturbance type and frequency on ‘seedling' establishment from seeds versus root suckers. Even when burnt annually, D. cinerea continued to form root suckers. The combination of establishment from seeds and spread by root suckers makes this species a formidable native invasive woody shrub.
Keywords: bush encroachment, clonal, fire, savanna
African Journal of Range & Forage Science 2007, 24(2): 73–76