Towards understanding the Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems within the Table Mountain Group Aquifer: A conceptual approach
Understanding of Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems (GDEs) and their extent within the Table Mountain Group (TMG) aquifer is poor. To understand the dependence to basic ecological and hydrogeological concepts need explanation. The use of current literature aided in identification and classification. From the literature it has come clear that groundwater dependence centers around two issues, water source and water use determination. The use of Geographical Information System (GIS) showed its potential in proof of water sources. Rainfall data and a Digital Elevation Model (DEM) for the Uniondale area have been used to do watershed delineation, which is in line with locating GDEs on a landscape. Thus the conceptual approach should be a broad one that sets a basis for both investigation (scientific research) and institutional arrangements (management). On the scientific research aspect: 1) Methods used to ascertain groundwater dependence have been identified and described (for example morphological traits, physiological traits, etc.) a) Use of GIS to delineate watersheds in the Uniondale area, putting it as one of useful methods that can be used in locating GDEs in a landscape. b) Use of Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) to create both geological and topographic cross-sections. Topographic cross-sections are important to locate ecosystems along a landscape, while geological cross-sections are useful in conceptualising groundwater flow. 2) The Plant Functional Type concept, which puts together plant species regardless of phylogeny but rather on morphological, phenological and physiological/life history trait similarity, has been suggested as a useful concept for the TMG GDEs. On the management aspect: 1) An ecosystem approach to understand groundwater has been identified and modified to suite the TMG GDE management. 2) A retention strategy useful to manage the TMG GDEs effectively has been suggested. There are knowledge gaps that exist in the TMG aquifer about Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems. Thus there is: • A need to identify GDE types that exist based on their degrees of dependency on groundwater. • A need to classify the GDEs using a PFTconcept. • To compile a trait (morphological, phenological and physiological) database for TMG aquifer GDEs.