Spatial patterns in natural vegetations result to a large extent from competitive interactions between neighbouring plants. Pattern analyses techniques are often used to estimate the importance of competitive interactions between plants. In this study, we used pattern analysis techniques, based upon image-analyses, to estimate the importance of competitive interactions for maintaining the spatial pattern of neighbouring perennial grasses in natural savanna populations in Zimbabwe.
The results of the different methods used, including nearest-neighbour and non-overlapping domain analysis, suggest that competitive interactions between neighbouring tufts play a limited role in maintaining the spatial pattern in these savanna grasslands.
Methodological features and the usefulness of pattern analysis techniques to estimate competition between neighbouring plants in natural vegetations are discussed.