Title page for ETD etd-05292012-174345

Document Type Doctoral Thesis
Author Van Jaarsveld, Ernst Jacobus
Email ernstvj@mweb.co.za
URN etd-05292012-174345
Document Title Cremnophilous succulents of southern Africa : diversity, structure and adaptations
Degree PhD
Department Plant Science
Advisor Name Title
Prof A E van Wyk Supervisor
  • succulent plants
  • specialisation
  • flora
  • cliff face
  • evolution
  • ecology
  • cremnophytes
  • cliff-adapted features
  • biogeography
  • adaptations
Date 2012-04-19
Availability unrestricted
The vertical cliff-face habitat is renowned for many specifically adapted plant species that exhibit a high degree of local endemism. Over a period of nine years the succulents and bulbous succulents on cliff faces in South Africa and Namibia were systematically surveyed and documented. Distinction was made between succulents growing on cliffs as part of a wider habitat and those found only on cliffs (obligate cremnophytes). Most major cliff-face habitats in the study area were visited and all plants were documented. A check list and descriptions (including adaptive traits) of the 220 obligate cremnophilous taxa are provided.

During the study some 45 new cremnophilous succulent taxa were discovered and named, representing almost 20% of the total and proving that cliff habitats are some of the least studied environments, not only in southern Africa but globally. Among the newly described cremnophilous taxa is the genus Dewinteria (Pedaliaceae).

Using stem length, three basic cliff-face growth forms are identified - compact or cluster-forming ‘cliff huggers’, cliff shrublets or ‘cliff squatters’ and pendent ‘cliff hangers’. Compact growth (often tight clusters or mats) is mainly associated with the winter-rainfall Succulent Karoo and Thicket regions, especially Namaqualand. However, further north the same compact growth forms are associated with an increase in altitude such as the Drakensberg Escarpment and other northern mountains. Most pendent growth forms are associated with the eastern and southeastern summer-rainfall regions; a number of smaller pendent shrublets occur on the high quartzitic sandstone mountains of the Western Cape. The degree of specialisation varies from highly adapted (smaller percentage) to less specialised (often eco-forms), and some taxa have no obvious adaptations.

This study revealed a general increase in succulence in most obligate cremnophilous succulent species (compared to closely related species in other habitats), a reflection of their xeric habitat, and plants tend to be more compact. Also, there is a shift in reproductive output, including an increase in vegetative reproduction (backup), wind-dispersed seed and enriched flowering associated with certain species. Most obligate cremnophilous succulent plants in the study area have cliff-adapted features, ensuring long-term survival.

© 2011 University of Pretoria. All rights reserved. The copyright in this work vests in the University of Pretoria. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the University of Pretoria.

Please cite as follows:

Van Jaarsveld , E 2011, Cremnophilous succulents of southern Africa : diversity, structure and adaptations, PhD thesis, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-05292012-174345/ >


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  01chapters1-4.pdf 248.80 Kb 00:01:09 00:00:35 00:00:31 00:00:15 00:00:01
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  04chapter12C-figures143-222.pdf 24.41 Mb 01:52:59 00:58:06 00:50:50 00:25:25 00:02:10
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