The study examined the extent to which plant nutrients can influence the physiognomy of Colophospermum mopane woodlands. C. mopane is an important ecosystem component and food source of the African elephant (Loxodonta loxodonta africana). C. mopane is dominant species in the two sites. Survey blocks were selected randomly inside monotypic C. mopane woodlands. In each block a 1 km transect and ten 20 x 20 m plots were systematically placed at 100 m intervals. Plant leaves were collected from the twenty plots in the two sites. ANOVA for equality of means was performed using SPSS version 20 to leaf parameters across dwarf and tall mopane woodlands. A result yielding a p value of <0.05 was considered statistically significant. Investigations were made on estimation of phosphorous, nitrogen, potassium, calcium and sodium in plant tissues. In this study, dwarf C. mopane woodland stand was associated with low magnesium content. Plants respond to magnesium deficiency by accumulating carbohydrates in source leaves whereas root growth is reduced due to limited supply of carbohydrates to the roots. The implications are that management needs to pay particular attention to elephant population increase in coppiced mopane vegetation and monitoring growth rates of saplings of coppiced mopane to monitor habitat change.
Key Words: Colophospermum mopane, Ecosystem, Nutrients, Physiognomy, Woodland, Zambia