Floristic composition and species diversity of urban vegetation in Bloemfontein, Free State, South Africa
Keywords:classification, ordination, species diversity, urban vegetation, vegetation types
Background: Urban vegetation studies have, until recently, been relatively uncommon in South Africa. Yet, natural urban vegetation is constantly competing with and greatly impacted by urbanisation. This vegetation requires proper management and needs to be conserved because it is an important ecological infrastructure.
Objectives: The objectives of the study were to identify the main vegetation types within the urban open spaces in the Bloemfontein metropolitan area, and to determine the floristic composition and species diversity of the area.
Methods: A total of 248 relevés were classified using the TWINSPAN classification algorithm, and relationships between the communities and the environment were determined with the Detrended Correspondence Analysis and Canonical Correspondence Analysis computer programs. Species diversity was partitioned into ?-, ?- and ?-diversities.
Results: Within the study area, 77 plant families and 248 genera, with a total of 376 plant species, were identified. The largest families are Poaceae, Asteraceae and Fabaceae, whereas the largest genera are Eragrostis, Aristida, Cyperus, Asparagus and Senecio. The study area has high species richness and the most species-rich sites are found adjacent to rivers and streams, and also on the slopes of hills and ridges. The vegetation is classified under five major vegetation types and four sub-units, which show a distinct association with topography and soil texture.
Conclusion: The urban vegetation of Bloemfontein is species-rich and should be properly managed and conserved. In particular, the wetlands and rocky outcrops on hills and ridges, which are the most threatened habitats in the study area, need special management.