The ecology and control of typha capensis in the wetlands of the Cape flats, South Africa

Doctoral Thesis


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University of Cape Town

Typha capensis is indigenous to the Cape, but is thought to be threatening Cape Flats wetlands through invasion and encroachment. This thesis establishes the extent of such encroachment and investigates aspects of the phenology, life-history, growth, production and decomposition of the species in a Cape Flats wetland. The process of invasion by indigenous species rather than by alien species is discussed and the view that wetlands are threatened by mismanagement rather than by encroachment per se is examined. Finally, control methods particularly suited to local environmental and economic conditions are evaluated. T. capensis was shown to be typical of invasive plant species and is spreading in some wetlands. Encroachment is usually associated with the stabilisation of seasonal water-level fluctuations and under these conditions stands were spreading at 1.5m month. Demographic methods used to measure growth, production and decomposition made it possible to quantify leaf fragmentation and shoot collapse, processes that are generally ignored during decomposition studies. Results showed that the structure of Typha stands is related to flood regime, and that flood regime has an important effect on production, litter formation and decomposition.

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