Savanna plant communities in the wetter parts of the Indonesian archipelago

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Folia Geobotanica




School of Science




Rufford Foundation

Edith Cowan University


Sutoma., van Etten, E. (2021). Savanna plant communities in the wetter parts of the Indonesian archipelago. Folia Geobotanica, 56(4), 193-204.



Savanna occurs in specific locations throughout the Indonesian archipelago, including some high rainfall regions. Little is known about its defining characteristics, such as structure, composition or diversity, and what these characteristics reveal about the origin and age of these savannas. At four locations in eastern Java (Baluran National Park & Alas Purwo National Park), Bali (Bali Barat National Park) and Lombok (Rinjani National Park), we used plots to record the abundance and cover of plant species and to measure local environmental parameters. MODIS burned-area product and field observations were used to obtain information on recent fires. We compared each savanna in terms of dominant species, species diversity and species richness. We also used ANOSIM to analyse the variation in community composition and canonical correspondence analysis to explore relationships between floristic and measured environmental factors. Our results showed there were distinct gradients in elevation (along with related climatic factors such as temperature and precipitation) and fire regime linked to floristic composition across the savannas of Java, Bali and Lombok Islands. Each savanna was characterized by a different set of woody and grass species, with invasive alien species, such as Acacia nilotica (syn. Vachellia nilotica), Lantana camara and Chromolaena odorata, being particularly important in differentiating between savannas. Characteristics of the Baluran savanna suggest that this ecosystem may be of considerable age, whereas the other savannas are likely to be maintained by regular fire. This study is the first study to describe more thoroughly the savanna plant community in the wetter parts of Indonesian archipelago and should serve as a valuable foundation for further studies on the Indonesian savannas and those of other parts of Southeast Asia.



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Research Themes

Natural and Built Environments

Priority Areas

Environmental science, ecology and ecosystems