Miombo woodland in Zambia is divided into wetter and drier types by the 1100 mm mean rainfall isohyet. In the present study two wetter (Northern, Northwestern) and three drier (Central, Eastern, Western) miombo subtypes were recognized.
A survey of the woody flora of 94 old-growth and 58 coppice stands in the five miombo subtypes revealed some significant differences in species diversity among them. The floristic differentiantion of miombo subtypes was best achieved by the use of the Shannon species diversity index (H′) and species density (number of species 0.1 ha−1 or 0.4 ha−1). H′ in miombo decreased from 2.247 in Northwestern to 2.136 in Northern, 2.052 in Eastern, 1.918 in Central and 1.824 in Western subtypes. Although species density was not significantly different between wetter miombo subtypes, this decreased in a similar fashion from 18.78 0.1 ha−1 in Northwestern to 18.30 in Northern, 16.65 in Eastern, 14.79 in Central and 12.29 in Western subtypes. The low species diversity in Western drier miombo was attributed to the combined effects of low soil fertility and rainfall.
Although the mean number of species per 0.1 ha plot was higher in coppice samples, species richness (d) and index of diversity (H′) were lower than in old-growth samples. These results indicate lower species diversity in regenerating miombo. The dynamic aspects of species structure should therefore be considered in the future conservation of biological diversity in miombo woodland.