Department of Biology
Institute of Plant Science and Microbiology
    Division BEE  >  Biodiversity & Ecology  >  Vol.4 >  Article 16

Biodiversity & Ecology

Long Database Report    Open Access 

BIOTA Southern Africa Biodiversity Observatories Vegetation Database

Gerhard Muche*, Ute Schmiedel & Norbert Jürgens

Article first published online: 24 September 2012

DOI: 10.7809/b-e.00066

*Corresponding author contact: gerhard.muche@uni-hamburg.de

Biodiversity & Ecology  (Biodivers. Ecol.)

Special Volume: Vegetation databases for the 21st century,
edited by Jürgen Dengler, Jens Oldeland, Florian Jansen, Milan Chytrý, Jörg Ewald, Manfred Finckh, Falko Glöckler, Gabriela Lopez-Gonzalez, Robert K. Peet & Joop H.J. Schaminée
Volume 4, pages 111–123, Sep 12
  PDF  (1.1 MB)

Keywords: climate change; ecoinformatics; long-term observation site; nested plot; permanent plot; relevé; species abundance; species cover; species richness; time series.


Abstract: The BIOTA Southern Africa Biodiversity Observatories Vegetation Database (AF-00-003) hosts the project-related data on spatial patterns and time series of biodiversity in southern Africa. Along a 2,000 km long transect, from the northern border of Namibia to the Cape of Good Hope, the plant diversity has been monitored on 37 Biodiversity Observatories for up to ten years (2001–2010). The design of the Observatories enables the observation of vegetation in nested, permanent plots where standardized measurements can be repeated. Information on species occurrence, cover and abundance has been recorded annually and stored in a database. These vegetation observations form a part of the interdisciplinary approach of BIOTA Southern Africa which assesses and monitors different organisms. In this paper, we describe how the vegetation data of the biodiversity monitoring project BIOTA Southern Africa, are managed. More than 400,000 species observations were recorded and stored in a database, covering a time-series of up to ten years. The Biodiversity Observatories are situated in along a major rainfall gradient, cover six biomes and are subject to different land use. The vegetation monitoring is on-going. The empirical data are a valuable source of information for various research questions ranging from testing theories on patterns, drivers of biodiversity at different spatial scales to studies on changes in biodiversity in space and time. The BIOTA Southern Africa Biodiversity Observatories Vegetation Database is currently explored to answer the following research questions: How many plant species exist at different scale levels? How does plant species composition change over time in relation to seasonal fluctuations, long-term climate change, environmental changes and human influences?

Suggested citation:
Muche, G., Schmiedel, U., Jürgens, N. (2012): BIOTA Southern Africa Biodiversity Observatories Vegetation Database. – In: Dengler, J., Oldeland, J., Jansen, F., Chytrý, M., Ewald, J., Finckh, M., Glöckler, F., Lopez-Gonzalez, G., Peet, R.K., Schaminée, J.H.J. [Eds.]: Vegetation databases for the 21st century. – Biodiversity & Ecology 4: 111–123. DOI: 10.7809/b-e.00066.