Vincent Ralph Clark

Vincent Ralph Clark
University of the Free State | ufs · QwaQwa Campus

PhD
Horizon2020 BiodivERsA Project "RangeX" with MIREN Consortium.

About

72
Publications
34,851
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Citations
Introduction
Dr V. Ralph Clark is the pioneer Director of the Afromontane Research Unit (ARU, QwaQwa Campus: University of the Free State). The ARU is located at the foot of the highest mountains in Africa south of Mt Kilimanjaro: the Maloti-Drakensberg. Other than driving a competent, multi-disciplinary mountain research team & international collaborations, Dr Clark's personal research expertise focus on southern African mountain plant diversity and endemism.
Additional affiliations
January 2018 - present
University of the Free State
Position
  • Managing Director
Description
  • Founded in 2015, the ARU (situated on the UFS’s QwaQwa Campus, Phuthaditjhaba) is an active and growing mountain research hub situated at the foot of the Maloti-Drakensberg in the eastern Free State Province, South Africa.
February 2016 - January 2018
The Alien SWAT Team (Pty) Ltd
Position
  • Manager
Description
  • Professional Alien Invasive Species Management
September 2014 - November 2014
Rhodes University
Position
  • Lecturer
Description
  • Biogeography 202 course
Education
September 2005 - December 2009
Rhodes University
Field of study
  • Floristics & Biogeography of the southern Great Escarpment, South Africa

Publications

Publications (72)
Article
Full-text available
Climatic, edaphic, and topographic differences between mountains and surrounding lowlands result in mountains acting as terrestrial islands with high levels of endemic biota. Conservation of mountains is thus key to successful biodiversity conservation. The Limpopo–Mpumalanga–Eswatini Escarpment (LMEE) in South Africa and the Kingdom of Eswatini is...
Article
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Invasive alien plants can use animal-plant interactions to increase their invasiveness. This study investigated the role of frugivorous birds in seed dispersal, germination success and germination time of the alien plant Pyracantha angustifolia (Franch.) C.K. Schneid. (Rosaceae) in South African high elevation grasslands. We monitored which bird sp...
Article
Full-text available
Climate change and other global change drivers threaten plant diversity in mountains worldwide. A widely documented response to such environmental modifications is for plant species to change their elevational ranges. Range shifts are often idiosyncratic and difficult to generalize, partly due to variation in sampling methods. There is thus a need...
Chapter
Full-text available
Significance Statement The chapter describes the conflicting interests of water users in the uThukela catchment of the Maloti-Drakensberg (MD) mountain system, including the implications of poor management on ecosystem health and livelihoods. As this is a strategic water resource area for both Lesotho and South Africa, effective management towards...
Chapter
Significance Statement Invasive alien plants (IAPs) in South African mountains are both threatening and supporting ecosystem services and human well-being for local communities, as well as those in nearby lowland areas. Higher elevation mountain areas have distinct IAP compositions compared to lower elevation mountains due to their unique climatic...
Article
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The six major mountain ranges in South Africa support critically important ecosystem services—notably water production—and are rich in biodiversity and endemism. These mountains are threatened by detrimental land uses, unsustainable use of natural resources, climate change, and invasive alien plants. Invasive alien plants pose substantial and rapid...
Article
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von Humboldt’s tree-line concept has dominated mountain ecology for almost two hundred years, and is considered a key indicator for monitoring change in biome boundaries and biodiversity shifts under climate change. Even though the concept of life zones and elevation gradients are a globally observed phenomenon, they have not been thoroughly explor...
Article
Full-text available
von Humboldt’s tree-line concept has dominated mountain ecology for almost two hundred years, and is considered a key indicator for monitoring change in biome boundaries and biodiversity shifts under climate change. Even though the concept of life zones and elevation gradients are a globally observed phenomenon, they have not been thoroughly explor...
Article
Full-text available
Research to inform a sustainable future for southern African mountains as socialecological systems requires major investment. This is needed to strengthen existing relationships, build new relationships among academia, policy, and practice, and drive a robust research capacity program. This is particularly important in disciplines where there is cu...
Preprint
Full-text available
Invasive alien plants can use animal-plant interactions to increase their invasiveness. This study investigated the role of frugivorous birds in seed dispersal and germination of the alien plant Pyracantha angustifolia (Rosaceae) in South African high elevation grasslands. We monitored which bird species fed on the fruit of the invasive P. angustif...
Article
Full-text available
The Maloti-Drakensberg (MD) is the largest and highest-elevation mountain system in southern Africa. Covering 40,000 km2 and reaching 3500 m, the MD provides a range of ecosystem services (ES) to the entire southern African region—benefitting diverse users and extending well beyond the mountains. Rapid socioecological change threatens the provision...
Article
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Background: The grasses (Poaceae) of the Flora of Southern Africa (FSA) region (i.e. Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia and South Africa) are relatively well documented, for both native and non-native species. Visiting taxonomic expertise nevertheless reveals new FSA and in-country records, particularly of non-native species. Such records provide...
Preprint
Full-text available
Climate change and other global change drivers threaten plant diversity in mountains worldwide. A widely documented response to such environmental modifications is for plant species to change their elevational ranges. Range shifts are often idiosyncratic and difficult to generalize, partly due to variation in sampling methods. There is thus a need...
Preprint
Full-text available
1. High-elevation Afroalpine ecosystems of the Drakensberg Mountain Centre (DMC) of Lesotho and South Africa, renowned for their high endemism and key ecosystem services, are socio-ecological systems that have seen human activity for millennia. However, their responses to land management practices are understudied. Controversy over their natural st...
Chapter
This synthesis report is a meta-analysis of perspectives for biodiversity and ecosystems, with a strong focus on human impacts on the environment, and a work order to enable and manage the protection, survival and evolution of all species on Earth. The goal is to protect nature without any further species loss (Zero Extinction). With this report, w...
Article
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Achieving sustainable food security is a critical goal for smallholder farmers in mountainous regions around the world. In the 40,000 km2 Maloti–Drakensberg mountains (South Africa and Lesotho), one of the important mountain ranges of southern Africa, farmers are directly dependent on natural resources. Natural resource management is currently unsu...
Article
Pyracantha angustifolia is a medium sized, evergreen shrub native to Northeastern China that is increasingly becoming invasive in warm temperate climates worldwide. The species ability to survive in areas affected by frost, and its attractive orange to red berries have contributed to its horticultural success. Once planted, the shrubs’ berries are...
Article
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Four species of Poa L. are newly reported for sub-Saharan Africa and southern Africa, Poa compressa L., P. iconia Azn., P. infirma Kunth and P. nemoralis L. This is the first report of P. iconia from Africa. Vouchers at PRE of P. bulbosa L. all belong to var. vivipara Koeler, those of P. iconia belong to var. iconia and the one of P. trivialis L. b...
Article
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We present taxonomic notes on the Festuca caprina complex from southern Africa that includes description and illustration of the new species F. drakensbergensis from the Drakensberg Mountain Centre of Floristic Endemism of South Africa and Lesotho. Festuca drakensbergensis can be differentiated from F. caprina s.l. by forming lax short tufts with e...
Article
Three species of Nassella have naturalized in South Africa. Nassella trichotoma and N. tenuissima are declared weeds under category 1b of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (NEM:BA) and occur mainly in the montane grasslands of the Western and Eastern Cape provinces. Nassella neesiana is not listed in NEM:BA but is naturalized...
Article
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The first comprehensive plant checklist for the Bvumba massif, situated in the Manica Highlands along the Zimbabwe-Mozambique border, is presented. Although covering only 276 km ² , the flora is rich with 1250 taxa (1127 native taxa and 123 naturalised introductions). There is a high proportion of Orchidaceae and Pteridophyta, with both groups show...
Article
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The Afromontane Research Unit (ARU), based at the Qwaqwa Campus of the University of the Free State, South Africa, continues to grow in research strength and reach. While a core focus on the sustainable development of the Maloti–Drakensberg will be perennial, the ARU is leading the way in growing a robust community of practice for transdisciplinary...
Article
Southern African mountains remain poorly studied as social-ecological systems (SES) and are poorly represented in the global mountain discourse. However, these mountains provide essential ecosystem services (ES) that underpin local and regional development. Quantitative data on ES, their representation in policy, and the political will for sustaina...
Preprint
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A Poster on the ARU - sharing welcome.
Article
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Senecio stella-purpurea is described as a novel species endemic to the Sneeuberg Centre of Floristic Endemism, Eastern Cape, South Africa. The species was first encountered in 2006 and erroneously identified as S. arenarius in the checklist for the Sneeuberg massif. Closer inspection of the material indicated that this is a novel species clearly di...
Article
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Endemics–Area Relationships (EARs)are fundamental in theoretical and applied biogeography for understanding distribution patterns and promoting biodiversity conservation. However, calculating EARs for vascular plant species from existing data is problematic because of biased knowledge of endemic species distributions and differences between taxonom...
Chapter
The Afro-alpine Zone is a fragmented vegetation type that occurs above 3200 m elevation on 14 scattered mountains and covers some 4525 km2 in tropical Africa. Defined by the strong diurnal climate of “summer every day and winter every night,” the Afro-alpine Zone is typified by a unique flora characterized by Giant Groundsel and Giant Lobelia speci...
Article
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Although the Nyanga massif hosts Zimbabwe's highest peak (Mt Nyangani), forms part of the Chimanimani–Nyanga Centre of Floristic Endemism and is a popular tourist destination, its levels of floristic diversity and endemism have not previously been documented. Here we define the Nyanga massif as a discrete 2181 km 2 northern part of the Manica Highl...
Article
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Southern Africa is the centre of diversity for the Apiaceae genus Conium L., notorious for the execution of Socrates. The recent expansion of Conium herbarium material from the southern Great Escarpment (Roggeveldberge to the Stormberg, South Africa) has allowed us to assess the taxonomic status of the two taxa (Conium species 3 and 4) for which, a...
Chapter
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The South African Drakensberg escarpment is a major source of water for South Africa with considerable economic value. Long-term climate change has not yet significantly affected rainfall or runoff from the Drakensberg, and human population growth is expected to be the largest medium-term constraint on water availability. Most of the rivers from th...
Article
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South Africa's 800 km-long southern Great Escarpment hosts numerous endemic plant species only known from their type specimens or from very few records. This is a legacy of a 100-150 year lag between the pioneer work of 19(th) century botanists and repeat fieldwork in the 21(st) century. As a result, population and ecological data are lacking for m...
Article
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m ention 'angola' and many might think of a third World, corrupt and war-torn african country that occasionally hosts football tournaments, where english is a foreign language and people drive on the 'wrong' side of the road. What many don't realise is that this 1,246,700 km 2 country is quietly going places. road-, housing-and other infrastructure...
Article
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V. Ralph Clark, Email: vincentralph.clark@gmail.com Oral Session: Savanna and Grassland Ecology The role of edaphic substrate versus moisture availability in montane endemic plant distribution patterns – evidence from the Cape Midlands Escarpment, South Africa V.R. Clark, N.P. Barker Great Escarpment Biodiversity Programme, Department of Botany...
Article
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Two new species of Indigofera L. (Leguminosae) are described from the Sneeuberg Centre of Floristic Endemism on the southern Great Escarpment, Eastern and Western Cape Provinces, South Africa. Both species are localised high-altitude endemics. Indigofera magnifica Schrire & V.R. Clark is confined to the summit plateau of the Toorberg–Koudeveldberg–...
Article
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Two new species of Indigofera L. (Leguminosae) are described from the Sneeuberg Centre of Floristic Endemism on the southern Great Escarpment, Eastern and Western Cape Provinces, South Africa. Both species are localised high-altitude endemics. Indigofera magnifica Schrire & V.R. Clark is confined to the summit plateau of the Toorberg–Koudeveldberg–...
Article
As part of a taxonomic revision of the genus Massonia Houtt., a new species, Massonia dentata Mart.-Azorín, V.R.Clark, M.Pinter, M.B.Crespo & Wetschnig, is here described from the Nuweveldberge on South Africa’s southern Great Escarpment. This new species is, at first sight, related to M. calvata Baker and M. echinata L.f., but it differs in floral...
Chapter
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Vascular plant endemism of different mainland regions in relation to ecological conditions and habitats is analysed in detail. The regions belong to different biogeographical zones, climates and are of different sizes. Because of their species richness, level of endemism, and a long history of human occupation affecting the biota, some of the regio...
Article
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The Great Winterberg–Amatholes (GWA) is part of the Great Escarpment in southern Africa and ‘sister’ to the Sneeuberg and Stormberg ranges in the Eastern Cape. It comprises a historically well-sampled Amathole Component, and a poorly known Great Winterberg Component. Accordingly, overall plant diversity and endemism have been unknown. Here we defin...
Chapter
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Animals and plants that have small ranges are called endemics. Small is a relative term. Ultimately, every taxon can be called endemic in an area that includes its entire range. We use the term endemic for any taxonomic category entirely restricted to a given geographical or biogeographical unit such as a locality, island, region, mountain range, c...
Article
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Faurea recondita (Proteaceae) from the Sneeuberg Mountains of the southern Great Escarpment of South Africa is described. It is distinguished by its shrubby, lignotuberous habit, small leaves, 30–55 × 5–15 mm, and short, 30–60 mm long, erect terminal inflorescences. The shrubby habit and occurrence in heath-like vegetation are shared with Faurea co...
Article
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Botanical work since 2008 on the Sleeping Giant section of the Kamdebooberge (Sneeuberg mountain complex, Eastern Cape, South Africa) has indicated that these mountains may be of significant conservation value. Accordingly, a precursory, rapid multi-disciplinary biodiversity assessment was undertaken in January 2011, focusing on plants, tetrapod ve...
Article
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Background: Numerous Cape Floristic Region (CFR) clades are found in the Afromontane region of Africa, causing speculation on the source of their distribution. The southern Escarpment has been postulated as a key link in the movement of Cape species between the CFR and these Afromontane areas.Aims: The strengths of three purported connections (the...
Article
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Albuca tenuifolia Baker was described and illustrated in 1872 from South African material sent by Peter MacOwan to William Wilson Saunders in England, without a precise locality. Since then this species has been cited in later works although with many uncertainties. In addition, no type has been designated for this taxon. After field work in the Gr...
Article
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A new species of Psoralea is described. Psoralea margaretiflora C.H. Stirton & V.R. Clark is endemic to the Sneeuberg Centre of Floristic Endemism, Eastern Cape, South Africa. This resprouter is characterised by its small greenish-white flowers with a small trifid purple nectar patch and translucent veins; 5(-7)-pinnate leaflets; multi-branching er...
Article
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The Nuweveldberge forms the central and most arid component to the southern Great Escarpment in South Africa. Situated between the Sneeuberg in the east and the Hantam–Roggeveld in the west, the Nuweveldberge has elements of both the Succulent Karoo and Grassland Biomes. The Nuweveldberge has low endemism (0.5%) compared to the adjacent Sneeuberg (...