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Author: Groen, T.A. and van Langevelde, F. and van de Vijver, C.A.D.M. and de Raad, A.L. and de Leeuw, J. and Prins, H.H.T.

A continental analysis of correlations between tree patterns in African

Journal: Journal of Arid Environments
Volume: 75
Year: 2011
Number: 8
Pages: 724--733


This study analyses possible relationships between natural processes taking place in savannas and the tree patterns found in savannas. This can lead to new hypotheses about which processes are driving savanna physiognomy. To do so tree patterns were quantified for African savannas from historical aerial photographs applying frequently used landscape metrics. Also, additional data for these areas were collected to quantify the processes taking place at these locations. Correlations between tree pattern indices and explaining factors were analysed. We found a negative trend between tree cover and density of sheep and goats, but no relationship between tree cover and density of cattle, suggesting that small livestock have an effect on tree cover, but that larger livestock (or obligate grazers) do not. Also, a positive correlation between human population density and tree cover was found. Possible explanations for the found relations are discussed. Subsequent ways to analyse the latter correlation are discussed, and the potential of the presented historical database of aerial photographs is highlighted.

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