References of "Doucet, Jean-Louis"
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See detailContributing to wood anatomical databases to improve species identification, phylogeny and functional trait research in Central Africa
Morin, Julie ULg; Fayolle, Adeline ULg; De Ridder, Maaike et al

Poster (2015, May 26)

Central African rainforests shelter a high number of woody species that are anatomically very different. Knowledge of taxon-specific wood anatomical features has proven indispensable for scientific and ... [more ▼]

Central African rainforests shelter a high number of woody species that are anatomically very different. Knowledge of taxon-specific wood anatomical features has proven indispensable for scientific and non-scientific applications. The field of wood anatomy and identification has been drastically revolutionized by the development of internationally recognized lists of precisely illustrated microscopic features (e.g. IAWA Committee 1989), together with the launch of InsideWood, an online search database using these features to narrow down identification results (e.g. Wheeler 2011). However, despite these massive efforts, the anatomy of many species or even genera remains in the dark, especially in species-rich regions. Wood anatomy has been formally described for less than 25% of the Central African woody species (Hubau et al. 2012), the focus has been mainly on timber species and variations in wood anatomical structure remain to be explored. Therefore, we are assembling a wood anatomical database of about 800 species covering the Guineo-Congolian region using material from InsideWood and the Tervuren xylarium (new descriptions). As such, we present how large anatomical databases hold interesting perspectives for (i) wood and charcoal identification, (ii) exploring the phylogenetic signal of wood anatomy, and (iii) the relationship between wood anatomical features and functional traits. [less ▲]

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See detailQuantity and spatial distribution of seeds dispersed by a western lowland gorilla population in south-east Cameroon
Petre, Charles-Albert ULg; Tagg, Nikki; Beudels-Jamar et al

in Journal of Tropical Ecology (2015), 35(03), 201-212

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See detailHigh spatial resolution of late-Holocene human activities in the moist forests of Central Africa using soil charcoal and charred botanical remains
Morin, Julie ULg; Biwolé, Achille; Gorel, Anaïs ULg et al

Conference (2015, April 27)

Palaeoecological and archaeological studies have demonstrated that human populations have long inhabited the moist forests of central Africa. However, spatial and temporal patterns of human activities ... [more ▼]

Palaeoecological and archaeological studies have demonstrated that human populations have long inhabited the moist forests of central Africa. However, spatial and temporal patterns of human activities have hardly been investigated with satisfactory accuracy. In this study, we propose to characterize past human activities at local scale by using a systematic quantitative and qualitative methodology based on soil charcoal and charred botanical remains. A total of 88 equidistant test-pits were excavated along six transects in two contrasting forest types in southern Cameroon. Charred botanical remains were collected by water-sieving and sorted by type (wood charcoals, oil palm endocarps, and unidentified seeds). A total of 50 Accelerator Mass Spectrometry 14C dates were also obtained. Results showed that charred macroremains were found at multiple places in the forest, suggesting scattered human activities, which were distributed into two main periods (Phase A: 2300-1300 BP – Phase B: 580 BP to the present). Charred botanical remains indicated two types of land use: (i) domestic, with oil palm endocarps most often associated with potsherds (villages) and (ii) agricultural, with charcoal as probable remnant of slash-and-burn cultivation (fields). Oil palm endocarp abundance decreased with distance from the identified human settlements. Our methodology allowed documenting, at high resolution, the spatial and temporal patterns of human activities in central African moist forests and could be applied to other tropical contexts. [less ▲]

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See detailComparative effectiveness of silvicultural interventions for increasing timber production and sustaining conservation values in natural tropical production forests. A systematic review protocol
Petrokofsky, Gillian; Sist, Plinio; Blanc, Lilian et al

in Environmental Evidence (2015), 4(8),

Background: Currently, about 400 million hectares of tropical moist forests worldwide are designated production forests, about a quarter of which are managed by rural communities and indigenous peoples ... [more ▼]

Background: Currently, about 400 million hectares of tropical moist forests worldwide are designated production forests, about a quarter of which are managed by rural communities and indigenous peoples. There has been a gradual impoverishment of forest resources inside selectively logged forests in which the volume of timber extracted over the first cutting cycle was mostly from large, old trees that matured over a century or more and grew in the absence of strong anthropological pressures. In forests now being logged for a second and third time, that volume has not been reconstituted due in part to the lack of implementation of post-logging silvicultural treatments. This depletion of timber stocks renders the degraded forests prone to conversion to other land uses. Although it is essential to preserve undisturbed primary forests through the creation of protected areas, these areas alone will not be able to ensure the conservation of all species on a pan-tropical scale, for social, economic and political reasons. The conservation of tropical forests of tomorrow will mostly take place within human-modified (logged, domesticated) forests. In this context, silvicultural interventions are considered by many tropical foresters and forest ecologists as tools capable of effectively conserving tropical forest biodiversity and ecosystem services while stimulating forest production. This systematic review aims to assess past and current evidence of the impact of silviculture on tropical forests and to identify silvicultural practices appropriate for the current conditions in the forests and forestry sectors of the Congo Basin, Amazonia and Southeast Asia. Methods: This systematic review will undertake an extensive search of literature to assess the relative effectiveness of different silvicultural interventions on timber production and the conservation value of forests, and to determine whether there is a relationship between sustainability of timber harvesting and the maintenance/conservation of other ecosystem services and biodiversity in production forests. Data will be extracted for meta-analysis of at least sub-sets of the review questions. Findings are expected to help inform policy and develop evidence-based practice guidelines on silvicultural practices in tropical forests. [less ▲]

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See detailSeed and pollen dispersal in Guineo-Congolian canopy tree species – insights from genetic markers in multiple species
Hardy, Olivier J.; Duminil, Jérôme; Daïnou, Kasso ULg et al

Conference (2015, April)

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See detailNineteenth century human history explains the dominance of light-demanding tree species in Central African moist forests
Morin, Julie ULg; Fayolle, Adeline ULg; Favier, Charly et al

Poster (2015, March 21)

The canopy of central African moist forests is dominated by light-demanding trees. Most of these species show a distribution of diameters that indicates a regeneration shortage. Here we show through the ... [more ▼]

The canopy of central African moist forests is dominated by light-demanding trees. Most of these species show a distribution of diameters that indicates a regeneration shortage. Here we show through the combined analysis of botanical, palaeoecological, archaeological and historical data that most of these trees are not older than ca. 180 years. This age corresponds to the early 19th century (around 1830) when the slave-raiding, the interethnic wars and the colonization of the inlands by the Europeans disturbed the human spatial occupancy. After 1885, the spatial clumping of people and villages along the main communication axes induced less itinerancy in the forest. We believe that former activities such as shifting cultivation created scattered openings in the canopy, large enough to allow light-demanding trees to establish. Nowadays, common logging operations do not create openings sufficiently large for the regeneration of these high value timber species. Our findings emphasize the need to include considerations about the history of human spatial occupancy and activities to understand forest dynamics. We need silvicultural guidelines adapted to the autecology of the species. Population enforcements (e.g. enrichment) will be needed to ensure the sustainability of timber yields in forests dominated by long-lived light-demanding trees. [less ▲]

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See detailThe need for site-specific height-diameter allometry of Central African moist forests
Loubota Panzou, Grâce Jopaul ULg; Doucet, Jean-Louis ULg; Fayolle, Adeline ULg

Conference (2015, March 21)

L’utilisation de l’allométrie hauteur-diamètre globale ou régionale en milieu tropical pourrait avoir des conséquences importantes dans les estimations de biomasse et des stocks de carbone. L’objectif de ... [more ▼]

L’utilisation de l’allométrie hauteur-diamètre globale ou régionale en milieu tropical pourrait avoir des conséquences importantes dans les estimations de biomasse et des stocks de carbone. L’objectif de ce travail est d’identifier les variations de l’allométrie hauteur-diamètre au sein de deux types de forêts (forêt sempervirente et forêt semi-décidue) au sud du Cameroun et d’examiner leurs conséquences sur les estimations de biomasse. Le diamètre et la hauteur ont été mesurés sur un total de 521 arbres appartenant à 15 espèces et couvrant une gamme de diamètre de 10 à 240 cm. Une calibration des mesures non destructives et destructives de la hauteur a été réalisée sur 60 arbres. Dix modèles allométriques ont été ajustés sur ces données. Le meilleur modèle a été sélectionné avec Akaike Information Criterion (AIC). L’allométrie hauteur-diamètre au niveau des sites et entre les espèces a montré une tendance asymptotique (Modèle de Michaelis-Menten). Pour un même diamètre, les arbres étaient plus hauts dans les forêts semi-décidues que dans les forêts sempervirentes. Les différences de biomasse entre les deux types de forêts sont dues par les variations de l’allométrie hauteur-diamètre. Les variations de l’allométrie hauteur-diamètre sont donc d’une extrême importance dans les estimations de biomasse et des stocks de carbone des forêts denses humides tropicales d’Afrique centrale. [less ▲]

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See detailDifferences in dung beetle activity at western gorilla defecation sites in south-east Cameroon: implications for establishment of Uapaca spp. seedlings
Petre, Charles-Albert ULg; Zinque, Marie-Hélène; Tagg, Nikki et al

in Journal of Tropical Ecology (2015), 31(02), 161-174

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See detailApproche agroforestière. Synthèse des travaux menés par le projet DACEFI2 en agroforesterie. Document de capitalisation.
Boldrini, Sylvie; Meunier, Quentin; Boukouendji, Basile et al

E-print/Working paper (2015)

Le projet DACEFI-2 a eu pour mission première la promotion de la foresterie communautaire comme outil de développement des communautés rurales. L’approche au Gabon en matière de gestion des terroirs ... [more ▼]

Le projet DACEFI-2 a eu pour mission première la promotion de la foresterie communautaire comme outil de développement des communautés rurales. L’approche au Gabon en matière de gestion des terroirs villageois s’est voulue plus embrassante, promouvant en sus de l’exploitation forestière des activités comme l’agriculture, le maraîchage, la collecte des produits forestiers non ligneux ou encore l’agroforesterie. L’agroforesterie est une thématique qui converge parfaitement avec la gestion raisonnée de la forêt, et idéalement avec les modes d’interaction préexistants des villageois avec celle-ci. Concilier dans un même espace la culture de plantes vivrières et l’accès à des arbres à fort intérêt socio-économique apporte une plus-value notoire aux parcelles cultivées. L’optimisation des techniques culturales permet une meilleure productivité et une incitation à la sédentarisation des cultures, élément important à considérer compte tenu des difficultés d’entretien des parcelles éloignées du village (notamment liées aux dégâts causés par les animaux). Ce recueil compile les travaux réalisés en agroforesterie par les équipes du projet DACEFI-2. Il rappelle la stratégie d’intervention et les différentes activités menées, de la sensibilisation auprès des plus jeunes à la promotion de certains produits forestiers non ligneux à potentiel économique avéré. La promotion de l’arbre, de la récolte de la graine jusqu’à sa plantation en passant par sa mise en pépinière aura également animé toute l’équipe durant ces années d’exercice, afin de faire un peu plus valoir ses multiples intérêts et susciter les efforts de gestion, de conservation et de reboisement. [less ▲]

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See detailSite-specific height-diameter allometry of Central African moist forests
Loubota Panzou, Grâce Jopaul ULg; Doucet, Jean-Louis ULg; Fayolle, Adeline ULg

Poster (2015, February 04)

In this study we aimed to identify the variation in height-diameter allometry between forest types and among species in Central African moist forests. We also examined the consequences on biomass ... [more ▼]

In this study we aimed to identify the variation in height-diameter allometry between forest types and among species in Central African moist forests. We also examined the consequences on biomass estimation. Two forest sites in southern Cameroon with contrasting levels of deciduousness. Height and diameter were measured for a total of 521 trees belonging to 12 timber species over a large range of diameter, 10-240 cm for the Ma’an site and 11-182 cm for the Mindourou site. Non-destructive height measurements were calibrated with destructive measurements for a total of 60 trees, 30 in each site. Commercial forest inventory data (n=7253 0.5ha plots) were gathered for the Ma’an (n=34 samples and 2101 plots) and Mindourou (n=117 samples and 5152 plots) sites. A total of ten allometric models (including asymptotic and non-asymptotic models) were fitted to the height-diameter data at species (n=12) and site (n=2) level. Biomass estimates were computed based on forest inventory data and general allometric models using both site-specific and published height-diameter equations. Given the strong correlation between the non-destructive and destructive height measurements we had confidence in using the non-destructive height measurements to establish site- and species-specific height-diameter allometric equations. The height measurements performed over a wide range of diameters, 10-240 cm, tended to support an asymptotic shape (and most often the Michaelis Menten model) for the height-diameter allometry either at species and site level. We identified a significant difference in height-diameter allometry between the two study sites. For a given diameter, trees tended to be taller in the more semi-deciduous Mindourou site than in the more evergreen Ma’an site, with a maximum height of 39.5 and 46.5 m, respectively. The two sites significantly differed in stand structure and biomass. This difference is due to the variation in height-diameter allometry. Height-diameter allometry strongly varies between sites and site-specific height-diameter allometric equations should be developed to further improve the estimation of biomass and carbon stock contained in tropical forests. [less ▲]

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See detailDifferential Performance between Two Timber Species in Forest Logging Gaps and in Plantations in Central Africa
Fayolle, Adeline ULg; Ouedraogo, Dakis-Yaoba ULg; Ligot, Gauthier ULg et al

in Forests (2015), 6(2), 380-394

To develop silvicultural guidelines for high-value timber species of Central African moist forests, we assessed the performance of the pioneer Milicia excelsa (iroko, Moraceae), and of the non-pioneer ... [more ▼]

To develop silvicultural guidelines for high-value timber species of Central African moist forests, we assessed the performance of the pioneer Milicia excelsa (iroko, Moraceae), and of the non-pioneer light demander Pericopsis elata (assamela, Fabaceae) in logging gaps and in plantations in highly degraded areas in south-eastern Cameroon. The survival and size of each seedling was regularly monitored in the silvicultural experiments. Differences in performance and allometry were tested between species in logging gaps and in plantations. The two species performance in logging gaps was significantly different from plantations and concurred with the expectations of the performance trade-off hypothesis but not with the expectations of species light requirements. The pioneer M. excelsa survived significantly better in logging gaps while the non-pioneer P. elata grew significantly faster in plantations. The high mortality and slow growth of M. excelsa in plantations is surprising for a pioneer species but could be explained by herbivory (attacks from a gall-making psyllid). Identifying high-value native timber species (i) with good performance in plantations such as P. elata is of importance to restore degraded areas; and (ii) with good performance in logging gaps such as M. excelsa is of importance to maintain timber resources and biodiversity in production forests. [less ▲]

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See detailIdentification of charred botanical remains provides more accurate information on past history in Central Africa
Morin, Julie ULg; Biwolé, Achille; Bourland, Nils et al

Poster (2015, January 30)

In palaeoenvironmental studies, charred botanical remains have rarely been identified to the species level before being sent to radiocarbon dating. Moreover, the age of most tropical spp. and thereby the ... [more ▼]

In palaeoenvironmental studies, charred botanical remains have rarely been identified to the species level before being sent to radiocarbon dating. Moreover, the age of most tropical spp. and thereby the age of the carbon sequestered during plant growth is not known. Dating unidentified charred wood in the tropics should be thus treated with caution because the accuracy of the dates is not guaranteed. Here we present 71 dates obtained on charred endocarps and wood charcoals sampled in soil pits in Cameroon and in the Rep. of the Congo. We taxonomically identified 43 samples then selected both identified and unidentified individual fragments for radiocarbon dating. We performed summed probability distributions of the dates calibrated in BP for the 43 identified and the 28 unidentified samples separately then for the whole dates. Results showed that the dates obtained on unidentified samples better fit the established chronology for Central Africa but that they also presented less precise standard deviations than the dates obtained on identified short-lived material, and that the dates on identified samples provide more detailed trends about the phases of human occupation in Central Africa after 2,500 BP. We can assume that dating unidentified material may introduce some blur into chronologies and that the selection of identified charred botanical remains should be systematically applied for palaeoenvironmental reconstructions in tropical contexts to refine the chronologies. [less ▲]

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See detailHow Tightly Linked Are Pericopsis elata (Fabaceae) Patches to Anthropogenic Disturbances in Southeastern Cameroon?
Bourland, Nils; Cerisier, François; Daïnou, Kasso ULg et al

in Forests (2015), 6(2), 293-310

While most past studies have emphasized the relationships between specific forest stands and edaphic factors, recent observations in Central African moist forests suggested that an increase of slash-and ... [more ▼]

While most past studies have emphasized the relationships between specific forest stands and edaphic factors, recent observations in Central African moist forests suggested that an increase of slash-and-burn agriculture since 3000–2000 BP (Before Present) could be the main driver of the persistence of light-demanding tree species. In order to examine anthropogenic factors in the persistence of such populations, our study focused on Pericopsis elata, an endangered clustered timber species. We used a multidisciplinary approach comprised of botanical, anthracological and archaeobotanical investigations to compare P. elata patches with surrounding stands of mixed forest vegetation (“out-zones”). Charcoal samples were found in both zones, but were significantly more abundant in the soils of patches. Eleven groups of taxa were identified from the charcoals, most of them also present in the current vegetation. Potsherds were detected only inside P. elata patches and at different soil depths, suggesting a long human presence from at least 2150 to 195 BP, as revealed by our charcoal radiocarbon dating. We conclude that current P. elata patches most likely result from shifting cultivation that occurred ca. two centuries ago. The implications of our findings for the dynamics and management of light-demanding tree species are discussed. [less ▲]

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See detailMicrosatellite Development and Flow Cytometry in the African Tree Genus Afzelia (Fabaceae, Caesalpinioideae) Reveal a Polyploid Complex
Donkpegan, Segbedji ULg; Doucet, Jean-Louis ULg; Daïnou, Kasso ULg et al

in Applications in Plant Sciences (2015), 3(1)

Premise of the study: Microsatellites were developed in the vulnerable African rainforest tree Afzelia bipindensis to investigate gene flow patterns. Methods and Results: Using 454 GS-FLX technique, 16 ... [more ▼]

Premise of the study: Microsatellites were developed in the vulnerable African rainforest tree Afzelia bipindensis to investigate gene flow patterns. Methods and Results: Using 454 GS-FLX technique, 16 primer sets were identified and optimized, leading to 11 polymorphic and readable markers displaying each six to 25 alleles in a population. Up to four alleles per individual were found in each of the loci, without evidence of fixed heterozygosity, suggesting an autotetraploid genome. Cross-amplification succeeded for all loci in the African rainforest species A. pachyloba and A. bella, which appeared tetraploid, and for most loci in the African woodland species A. africana and A. quanzensis, which appeared diploid, but failed in the Asian species A. xylocarpa. Flow cytometry confirmed the suspected differences in ploidy. Conclusions: African Afzelia species are diploid or tetraploid, a situation rarely documented in tropical trees. These newly developed microsatellites will help in the study of their mating system and gene flow patterns. [less ▲]

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See detailLight Response of Seedlings of a Central African Timber Tree Species, Lophira alata (Ochnaceae), and the Definition of Light Requirements
Biwolé, Achille Bernard; Daïnou, Kasso ULg; Fayolle, Adeline ULg et al

in Biotropica (2015), 47(6), 681-688

Light is of primary importance in structuring tropical tree communities. Light exposure at seedling and adult stages has been used to characterize the ecological profile of tropical trees, with many ... [more ▼]

Light is of primary importance in structuring tropical tree communities. Light exposure at seedling and adult stages has been used to characterize the ecological profile of tropical trees, with many implications in forest management and restoration ecology. Most shadetolerance classification systems have been proposed based on empirical observations in a specific area and thus result in contradictions among categories assigned to a given species. In this study, we aimed to quantify the light requirements for seedling growth of a Central African timber tree, Lophira alata (Ochnaceae), taking into account effects of population origin. In two controlled experiments: a light response experiment and a comparative population experiment, conducted in southwestern Cameroon, using seeds collected from four populations (three from Cameroon and one from Gabon), we examined the quantitative responses to irradiance of seedlings. After 2 years, mortality was very low (<3%), even in extremely low irradiance. Growth and biomass allocation patterns varied in response to light, with intermediate irradiance (24–43%) providing optimal conditions. Light response differed between populations. The Boumba population in the northeastern edge of the species’ distribution exhibited the highest light requirements, suggesting a local adaptation. As a result of positive growth at low irradiance and maximum growth at intermediate irradiance, we concluded that L. alata exhibits characteristics of both non-pioneer and pioneer species. Implications of our results to propose an objective way to assign the light requirement for tropical tree species are discussed. [less ▲]

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See detailWestern lowland gorilla seed dispersal: Are seeds adapted to long gut retention times?
Petre, Charles-Albert ULg; Tagg, Nikki; Beudels-Jamar, Roseline et al

in Acta Oecologica: International Journal of Ecology (2015), 67

The degree of seed scarification in the frugivore gut, partly dependent on gut retention time, is a key component in determining the extent to which gut passage alters germination performances. Another ... [more ▼]

The degree of seed scarification in the frugivore gut, partly dependent on gut retention time, is a key component in determining the extent to which gut passage alters germination performances. Another potential benefit of gut passage arises as a result of the removal of fruit pulp which otherwise may act as a germination inhibitor. Using experiments designed to disentangle the respective effects of pulp removal (germination deinhibition) and seed scarification, and gut retention time as an explanatory variable, we investigated the effect of gut passage on germination performances (percentage and latency) of five tropical tree species dispersed by the western lowland gorilla (Gorilla g. gorilla). The percentage of seeds germinating after gut passage increased for three species, respectively, through the effects of scarification only, deinhibition only, and scarification and deinhibition combined. A negative scarification effect was observed for one species, and no effect of gut passage for another. Passage through the gut led to a decrease in germination latency of three species, as a result of the depulping of seeds. However, seed scarification resulted in germination delays for another species. The gut retention time of the five species averaged 39e56 h and had no effect on intra-specific germination performances except for one species whose germination probability increased as gut retention time increased. As gut retention time often correlates with dispersal distance, the fact that gut retention time per se does not reduce seed viability of these tropical tree species may have positive implications for their population dynamics and maintenance of genetic diversity. If no detrimental effect of gut retention time on germination performance is a general trait among tropical species, the extirpation of large frugivores with long gut retention time, such as the western lowland gorilla, would likely have negative long-term implications for tropical forests. [less ▲]

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See detailIs the western lowland gorilla a good gardener ? Evidence for directed dispersal in Southeast Gabon
Haurez, Barbara ULg; Brostaux, Yves ULg; Petre, Charles-Albert ULg et al

in Bois et Forêts des Tropiques (2015), 324(2), 39-50

In Central African tropical forests, the western lowland gorilla deposits most of the seeds it disperses in well-lit nesting sites that can favour seedling growth. The faecal matrix surrounding the seeds ... [more ▼]

In Central African tropical forests, the western lowland gorilla deposits most of the seeds it disperses in well-lit nesting sites that can favour seedling growth. The faecal matrix surrounding the seeds can act as a fertiliser and further enhance seedling development. This fertilisation effect had never been tested. Our research therefore aimed to determine whether seed deposition by gorillas (i) in faecal matter and (ii) in nest sites is advantageous for seedling development (growth rate and foliation rate) and survival (% of surviving seedlings). To assess the effect of the faecal matrix, seeds of Santiria trimera (Burseraceae), Chrysophyllum lacourtianum (Sapotaceae) and Plagiostyles africana (Euphorbiaceae) collected from gorilla faeces were sown in a nursery with and without a faecal matrix. Seedlings of Santiria trimera and Dacryodes normandii (Burseraceae) were established in nest sites and in closed canopy terra firme forest sites to assess the impact of seed deposition on seedling development and survival. The faecal matrix was observed to positively influence seedling development in the species studied, but showed no effect on survival. Regarding seed deposition sites, the development rates observed were two to ten times higher in the nest sites than in closed-canopy forest. This enhanced seedling development was positively correlated with canopy openness. In situ studies of seed germination, seedling growth and survival are needed to characterise the fate of gorilla-dispersed seeds more precisely. However, our results offer evidence that gorillas provide important directed dispersal services by depositing seeds most frequently in open canopy sites. [less ▲]

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See detailNew data on the recent history of the littoral forests of southern Cameroon: an insight into the role of historical human disturbances on the current forest composition
Biwolé, Achille ULg; Morin-Rivat, Julie ULg; Fayolle, Adeline ULg et al

in Plant Ecology and Evolution (2015), 148(1), 19-28

Background and aims – Prior to European colonisation of Central Africa, human populations were dispersed through the forests, where they practiced slash-and-burn cultivation. From the 19th century they ... [more ▼]

Background and aims – Prior to European colonisation of Central Africa, human populations were dispersed through the forests, where they practiced slash-and-burn cultivation. From the 19th century they were progressively concentrated in villages along roads, leaving large areas of forest derelict. In south-western Cameroon, and elsewhere in Central Africa, forest canopy is dominated by long-lived lightdemanding tree species, suggesting a possible role of human disturbance. The aim of this study was to bring new insights into the possible effect of historical human disturbances in terms of timing and spatial extent on the current forest composition. Location – Wet evergreen littoral forest in south-western Cameroon. Methods and key results – A combined vegetation sampling and archaeobotanical survey were conducted. Potsherds, oil-palm endocarps, and charcoal were found throughout the study area, suggesting generalised human occupation and anthropogenic fire. Human occupancy occurred in two periods: between 2200 and 1500 BP, and, more recently, beginning three centuries ago. High frequency of fire and the presence of Elaeis guineensis both dated recently (between 260 and 145 BP) suggest slash-and-burn shifting cultivation practices. These human-induced disturbances may coincide with the age of the current emergent lightdemanding species, the age of which can be estimated around 200 years, or with the phases of drying climate recorded in the Central African forest in the early 18th century. Conclusions – These results support the idea that historical human disturbances are one of the major factors that shaped the current forest composition in Central Africa. [less ▲]

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See detailGlobally, functional traits are weak predictors of juvenile tree growth, and we do not know why
Paine, C.E. Thimothy; Amissah, Lucy; Auge, Harald et al

in Journal of Ecology (2015), 103(4), 978-989

1. Plant functional traits, in particular specific leaf area (SLA), wood density and seed mass, are often good predictors of individual tree growth rates within communities. Individuals and species with ... [more ▼]

1. Plant functional traits, in particular specific leaf area (SLA), wood density and seed mass, are often good predictors of individual tree growth rates within communities. Individuals and species with high SLA, low wood density and small seeds tend to have faster growth rates. 2. If community-level relationships between traits and growth have general predictive value, then similar relationships should also be observed in analyses that integrate across taxa, biogeographic regions and environments. Such global consistency would imply that traits could serve as valuable proxies for the complex suite of factors that determine growth rate, and, therefore, could underpin a new generation of robust dynamic vegetation models. Alternatively, growth rates may depend more strongly on the local environment or growth–trait relationships may vary along environmental gradients. 3. We tested these alternative hypotheses using data on 27 352 juvenile trees, representing 278 species from 27 sites on all forested continents, and extensive functional trait data, 38% of which were obtained at the same sites at which growth was assessed. Data on potential evapotranspiration (PET), which summarizes the joint ecological effects of temperature and precipitation, were obtained from a global data base. 4. We estimated size-standardized relative height growth rates (SGR) for all species, then related them to functional traits and PET using mixed-effect models for the fastest growing species and for all species together. 5. Both the mean and 95th percentile SGR were more strongly associated with functional traits than with PET. PET was unrelated to SGR at the global scale. SGR increased with increasing SLA and decreased with increasing wood density and seed mass, but these traits explained only 3.1% of the variation in SGR. SGR–trait relationships were consistently weak across families and biogeographic zones, and over a range of tree statures. Thus, the most widely studied functional traits in plant ecology were poor predictors of tree growth over large scales. 6. Synthesis. We conclude that these functional traits alone may be unsuitable for predicting growth of trees over broad scales. Determining the functional traits that predict vital rates under specific environmental conditions may generate more insight than a monolithic global relationship can offer. [less ▲]

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See detailThe role of great apes in seed dispersal of the tropical forest tree species Dacryodes normandii (Burseraceae) in Gabon
Haurez, Barbara ULg; Daïnou, Kasso ULg; Tagg, Nikki et al

in Journal of Tropical Ecology (2015), 31(05), 395-402

The identification of seed dispersers and predators is essential to understand the effect of anthropogenic disturbances, and the associated defaunation process, on tropical forest dynamics in Central ... [more ▼]

The identification of seed dispersers and predators is essential to understand the effect of anthropogenic disturbances, and the associated defaunation process, on tropical forest dynamics in Central Africa. In this study, the animals involved in seed predation and dispersal of Dacryodes normandii (Burseraceae), an endozoochorously dispersed tree species endemic to Gabonese forests, were identified in a site in south-east Gabon using two complementary methods: direct observation and camera-trap monitoring of fruit piles. The combined sampling effort (172 h of direct observations and 796 d of camera trapping) led to the identification of six disperser and eight predator species of D. normandii seeds. With high frequency of consumption (88% and 57% of their visits, respectively) and long visit duration (83 and 23 min, respectively), the western lowland gorilla and central chimpanzee were identified as the main dispersers of this species. Seeds passed through the gorilla gut exhibited high germination success (68%). Rodents were identified as predators of D. normandii seeds, potentially displaying rare secondary dispersal through scatter-hoarding. The results of this study highlight the importance of great apes in the seed dispersal of this tree species. [less ▲]

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