VCS Editors’ Award for 2023

Prepared by Jürgen Dengler (on behalf of all VCS Chief Editor)

Cover of Volume 4 (2023) of Vegetation Classification and Survey with a motif from the Editors’ Award article by Strohbach & Strohbach (2023) on vegetation classification in Namibia.

As in every year, to highlight outstanding papers, we selected one Editors’ Choice paper per quarter, and from these four papers, we selected one for the annual Editors’ Award (Dengler et al. 2024). The selected articles are permanently labelled as such with a banner in the online presentation of the journal. Both are also highlighted in various VCS media, namely the VCS Newsletter, the News section on the VCS website and the vegsciblog of IAVS. In addition, the Editors’ Award comes with the right to provide photos or other illustrations for the cover of the respective VCS volume, and the first author receives a certificate and a prize from the publisher.

The Editors’ Award 2023 goes to the Editors’ Choice paper of the fourth quarter by Ben and Marianne Strohbach. They provided a comprehensive syntaxonomic description of the Karstveld vegetation in Namibia (Strohbach and Strohbach 2023), a contribution to the Special Collection “African vegetation studies” (see https://vcs.pensoft.net/collection/316/). Based on 889 vegetation plots of 1000 m2 extracted from the Phytosociological Database of Namibia, the authors distinguished four main vegetation types by means of TWINSPAN: wetlands and associated grasslands, transitional vegetation between Thornbush savanna and Karstveld, Kalahari type sandy vegetation and true Karstveld vegetation types. Each main vegetation type was further divided into more detailed plant communities, 17 of them being formally described as new plant associations. All associations are clearly defined by diagnostic species. The authors described the true Karstveld vegetation as a new phytosociological class Terminalietea prunoides, with eight associations, two new orders and three new alliances. The description of these vegetation units was completed with the comparison of their structure and diversity and intuitive visualisation of catenas representing their position along topographic gradients. A concluding remark of the authors concerns the high species richness of this region, which is seriously threatened in some areas that are not protected inside the Etosha National Park or private nature reserves and conservancies. This study is outstanding because formal syntaxonomic vegetation classification is still rare in Africa as a whole and mostly restricted to the francophone parts of North Africa. In other regions, there have been only very few such studies (e.g. Luther-Mosebach et al. 2012; Behn et al. 2022). We hope that the current paper will be the first in a series that eventually leads to a comprehensive synopsis of the plant communities of Namibia.

The recipient of the VCS Editors’ Award for 2023, Prof. Ben Strohbach.

References:

  • Behn, K., Alvarez, M., Mutebi, S. & Becker, M. (2022) Vegetation diversity in East African wetlands: Cocktail algorithms supported by a vegetation-plot database. Phytocoenologia 51: 199–219.
  • Dengler, J., Biurrun, I., Jansen, F. & Willner, W. 2024. Vegetation Classification and Survey is performing well. Vegetation Classification and Survey 5: 1–10. https://doi.org/10.3897/VCS.118454
  • Luther-Mosebach, J., Dengler, J., Schmiedel, U., Röwer, I.U., Labitzki, T. & Gröngröft, A. (2012) A first formal classification of the Hardeveld vegetation in Namaqualand, South Africa. Applied Vegetation Science 15: 401–431.
  • Strohbach, B.J. & Strohbach, M.M. (2023) A first syntaxonomic description of the vegetation of the Karstveld in Namibia. Vegetation Classification and Survey 4: 241–284. https://doi.org/10.3897/VCS.99045