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Few studies have highlighted perceptions of urban natural open space systems: land specifically excluded from development to protect ecosystem services. We used a local metropolitan city in South Africa to explore community perceptions of its natural open space system through individual qualitative interviews (n = 40). The objectives were: (1) to identify ecosystem services and disservices associated with the city’s natural open space system, and the reasons thereof, by exploring the relational values of nature held by a diverse socioeconomic spectrum of urban residents; and (2) to identify priorities for protecting the natural open space system by enhancing the benefits and minimizing ecosystem disservices. Reference to ecosystem services and disservices were coded according to the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) categorization of nature’s contribution to people. Non-material services (relational benefits) were impacted by exploitative material uses, access concerns and (mis)management. Challenges and opportunities identified relate to nature as a resource for supporting livelihoods and lifestyles; community outreach and employment opportunities; personal safety, health and aesthetic concerns; and lack of political accountability and municipal planning in terms of the management of natural open spaces. Innovative collaborative management and stewardship interventions with ecological and socioeconomic benefits should be prioritized to protect the natural open space system.
We conducted a greenhouse study to examine the effects of different habitat conditions and environmental resources on the growth rates of crimson fountaingrass, an invasive, alien, perennial grass in South Africa. To help understand the factors promoting the spread of this emergent alien grass, we investigated the effects of temperature regimes, nutrient and moisture addition, and soil type on seedling growth rates and biomass allocation. Our results suggest that crimson fountaingrass seedlings do not tolerate drought because they died within 1 mo without water. Additional nutrients and extra water increased seedling growth rates throughout the study period. Higher temperatures with extra moisture increased seedling growth rates and the development of belowground biomass throughout the study period. This study demonstrates the importance of available environmental resources and their interaction with some habitat conditions in promoting crimson fountaingrass growth. We suggest that soil moisture and nutrient availability are critical factors affecting successful establishment of crimson fountaingrass in arid environments. Managers should target seedlings for removal following precipitation and in areas of nutrient enrichment, such as near rivers and at road–river crossings.
Influence of habitat on physiological and structural characteristics was investigated for broad-leaved tropical monocotyledons in the genus Heliconia (Heliconiaceae). Seven species were selected from three different light regimes, enabling an analysis of the extent to which this genus has adapted its photosynthetic strategies and morphological characteristics to different daily photon flux densities (PFD). Predictably, light response curves showed a clear gradient with respect to light saturation and rates of maximum net assimilation (Amax). Heliconia latispatha, an open site species, showed saturation at higher PFD (1400 μmol m−2 s−1) and higher Amax (14–16 μmol m−2 s−1) than H. mathiasiae, a forest edge species (PFD 1000 μmol m−2 s−1; Amax 7.5–8.5 μmol m−2 s−1) and H. irrasa of deep-shade forest understorey (PFD 250 μmol m−2 s−1; Amax 3.5 mol m−2 s−1). Leaf blade areas were largest in open sites, and leaf specific mass was also significantly higher, but leaf support efficiency was highest in understorey species. Species in open sites had thicker leaves with more chlorenchyma, whereas deep-shade species had very thin leaves and low stomatal densities. These rapidly growing herbaceous perennials appear to allocate much of their above-ground biomass to leaf tissues and have a relatively low investment in support tissues. This contrasts with understorey palms, in which leaf form and structural investment has been interpreted as a trade-off between economy and protection against tissue loss from falling branches. Presence of below-ground rhizomes in Heliconia may provide the key to this difference.
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