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See detailDevelopment of nuclear SNP markers for genetic tracking of Iroko, Milicia excelsa and Milicia regia
Blanc-Jolivet, Céline; Kersten, Birgit; Daïnou, Kasso ULiege et al

in Conservation Genetics Resources (2017)

Iroko, Milicia excelsa, is an economically important tropical hardwood species widely distributed in tropical Africa, from Ivory Coast in Western Africa to Tanzania in Eastern Africa. The species occurs ... [more ▼]

Iroko, Milicia excelsa, is an economically important tropical hardwood species widely distributed in tropical Africa, from Ivory Coast in Western Africa to Tanzania in Eastern Africa. The species occurs at low densities in contrasting habitats such as rainforest and woodlands. Former studies using chloroplast and nuclear sequences, as well as nSSRs, revealed a strong differentiation within the species among West and Central African populations and the presence of three genetic groups in Central Africa (Daïnou et al. 2010, 2014). The genus Milicia also includes another species, M. regia, co-occurring with M. excelsa in West Africa. Both species can be identified genetically and morphologically (Daïnou et al. 2014), but identification is difficult in the field. Although the spatial genetic structure of the species is well described, it is mostly based on nSSRs. Despite their lower diversity, SNP markers provide several advantages including the uncomplicated standardization of data among laboratories and the easy, rapid and low-cost development of markers for large sets of loci. These features make SNPs the ideal markers for setting up genetic reference data for timber tracking (Blanc-Jolivet and Liesebach 2015; Degen et al. 2017; Jardine et al. 2016; Pakull et al. 2016). In this paper, we describe the development of a new set of nuclear SNPs on M. excelsa meant to be used for genetic timber tracking. [less ▲]

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See detailEntandrophragma cylindricum (Sprague) Sprague (Meliaceae), une espèce ligneuse concurrentielle en Afrique centrale (synthèse bibliographique)
Tabi Eckebil, Paule ULiege; Verheggen, François ULiege; Doucet, Jean-Louis ULiege et al

in Biotechnologie, Agronomie, Société et Environnement = Biotechnology, Agronomy, Society and Environment (2017), 21(1), 80-97

Introduction. De nos jours, la gestion des ressources forestières ne se focalise plus sur l’exploitation exclusive du bois d’oeuvre, mais prend également en considération les produits forestiers non ... [more ▼]

Introduction. De nos jours, la gestion des ressources forestières ne se focalise plus sur l’exploitation exclusive du bois d’oeuvre, mais prend également en considération les produits forestiers non ligneux. Entandrophragma cylindricum (Sprague) Sprague, de son nom commercial « sapelli/sapele », de la famille des Meliaceae, illustre parfaitement cette situation. Le présent article fait un état de l’art des connaissances concernant E. cylindricum et présente quelques informations sur la chenille qui lui est inféodée. Littérature. Le sapelli est une des espèces ligneuses les plus exploitées d’Afrique centrale pour son bois d’oeuvre. Il est répandu dans la forêt dense humide semi-caducifoliée du domaine guinéo-congolais. C’est une espèce semi-héliophile, son mode de dispersion est anémochore et sa phénologie est régulière. Selon la sylviculture appliquée, sa croissance en diamètre peut atteindre jusque 0,82 cm par an. Cette essence est également l’hôte d’une espèce de chenille comestible riche en protéines, I. oyemensis Rougeot. Fortement appréciée par les populations locales, cette chenille fait également l’objet d’un commerce régional et international. Enfin, l’écorce du sapelli est reconnue pour son intérêt ethnobotanique, particulièrement en médecine traditionnelle. Conclusions. Les informations tirées de la littérature ont permis de mettre en évidence certaines lacunes relatives à l’écologie et au mode de reproduction de cette espèce et, ceci, en dépit de son importance pour le commerce du bois. De plus, les inconnues quant à la productivité et la saisonnalité des chenilles d’Imbrasia oyemensis sur cet arbre nécessitent de développer des recherches complémentaires pour garantir la durabilité de l’exploitation simultanée de la ressource ligneuse et non ligneuse et pour proposer des modes de gestion concertés entre exploitants industriels et populations locales. [less ▲]

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See detailA look at Intact Forest Landscapes and their relevance to Central African forest policy
Haurez, Barbara ULiege; Daïnou, Kasso ULiege; Vermeulen, Cédric ULiege et al

Conference (2017, February)

Tropical forests are important providers of natural resources and ecosystem services but their ecological functions are facing increasing human pressure, linked to economic development. The preservation ... [more ▼]

Tropical forests are important providers of natural resources and ecosystem services but their ecological functions are facing increasing human pressure, linked to economic development. The preservation of tropical forest ecosystems is interrelated with effective land use planning and identification of priority areas for conservation. Initially defined by Greenpeace and the World Resources Institute (WRI) in 2000, Intact Forest Landscapes (IFLs) are large areas of forest minimally impacted by human activities. IFLs were identified by mapping industrial activities, road networks and infrastructure using remote sensing. Since 2014, when IFLs were recognized and adopted by the certification scheme Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the IFLs have become integrated into forest management policies. In order to trace the history and evaluate the applicability of IFLs for forest management policy in the Central African context, we searched for documents related to the IFL method, and previous similar concepts. The IFL method is simple and cost-effective and enables the monitoring of forest degradation at a global scale. However, the approach mainly considers forest cover and is imprecise at the local scale. For example, hunting, one of the main threats faced by Central African ecosystems, cannot be detected by satellite imagery and is therefore disregarded in IFL identification processes. In contrast, there are other considered anthropogenic activities, such as reduced-impact selective logging, which may be compatible with forest ecosystem conservation. To better tailor the IFL approach to Central African forests, we recommend (i) the consideration of wildlife communities distribution in the analysis of disturbance, (ii) a thorough evaluation of the impacts of different human activities on forest ecosystems, and (iii) the integration of local stakeholders and governments in the design of land management strategies devised to address social, economic and environmental needs. [less ▲]

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See detailGuide technique. Plantation agroforestière d'Acacia auriculiformis dans le Haut-Katanga
Boldrini, Sylvie; Bracke, Charles; Daïnou, Kasso ULiege et al

Book published by Presses Agronomiques de Gembloux (2017)

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See detailA look at Intact Forest Landscapes and their relevance in Central African forest policy
Haurez, Barbara ULiege; Daïnou, Kasso ULiege; Vermeulen, Cédric ULiege et al

in Forest Policy and Economics (2017), 80

Tropical forests are major providers of natural resources and ecosystem services but their ecological functions are at threat, due to increasing human pressure linked to economic development. The ... [more ▼]

Tropical forests are major providers of natural resources and ecosystem services but their ecological functions are at threat, due to increasing human pressure linked to economic development. The identification of priority areas for conservation is crucial for land use planning to ensure the protection of biodiversity and ecological function. Intact Forest Landscapes (IFLs), as defined by Greenpeace and World Resources Institute (WRI), are areas of the forest ecosystems not subjected to human activities. They have beenidentified by mapping human disturbances through remote sensing. Contrary to similar global-scale concepts, IFLs have been integrated into the standards of the certification body Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and therefore have practical implications for forest management policies. The Motion 65, approved in the general assembly of FSC in 2014, mandates the protection of IFLs located in FSC certified logging concessions. Until the implementation of national standards, forestry operations are banished from 80% of the IFL area within each forest management unit. To trace the history and evaluate the suitability of IFLs in the Central African context, we searched for documents related to the IFL method, and related approaches focusing on the identification of areas devoid of human disturbances. The IFL method is simple and cost-effective and allows for a global assessment of the influence of human infrastructures and industrial exploitation on forests However, the method does not consider the situation below the canopy and those forest components not visible by satellites. For example, hunting, one of the main threats faced by wildlife in Central African forests today, cannot be detected with satellite imagery. On the other hand, other anthropogenic activities which remote sensing may detect may be compatible with forest ecosystem conservation. To better tailor the IFL approach to Central African forests, we recommend (i) the consideration of wildlife communities in the intactness analysis, (ii) a thorough evaluation of the impacts of human activities on forest ecosystems, and (iii) the integration of local stakeholders and governments in the design of land management strategies to respond to social, economic and environmental needs [less ▲]

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See detailThe influence of spatially structured soil properties on tree community assemblages at a landscape scale in the tropical forests of southern Cameroon
Vleminckx, Jason; Doucet, Jean-Louis ULiege; Morin, Julie ULiege et al

in Journal of Ecology (2016)

Species distribution within plant communities results from both the influence of deterministic processes, related to environmental conditions, and neutral processes related to dispersal limitation and ... [more ▼]

Species distribution within plant communities results from both the influence of deterministic processes, related to environmental conditions, and neutral processes related to dispersal limitation and stochastic events, the relative importance of each factor depending on the observation scale. Assessing the relative contribution of environment necessitates controlling for spatial dependences among data points. Recent methods, combining multiple regression and Moran's eigenvectors maps (MEM), have been proved successful in disentangling the influence of pure spatial processes related to dispersal limitation, pure environmental variables (not spatially structured) and spatially structured environmental properties. However, the latter influence is usually not testable when using advanced spatial models like MEM. To overcome this issue, we propose an original approach, based on torus-translations and Moran spectral randomizations, to test the fraction of species abundance variation that is jointly explained by space and seven soil variables, using three environmental and tree species abundance data sets (consisting of 120, 52 and 34 plots of 0·2 ha each, located along 101-, 66- and 35-km-long transect-like inventories, respectively) collected in tropical moist forests in southern Cameroon. The overall abundance of species represented by ≥30 individuals, and 27% of these species taken individually, were significantly explained by fine-scale (<5 km) and/or broad-scale (5–100 km) spatially structured variations in soil nutrient concentrations (essentially the concentration of available Mn, Mg and Ca) along the 120-plots area. The number of significant tests considerably decreased when investigating the two smaller data sets, which mostly resulted from low statistical power rather than weaker floristic and/or edaphic variation captured among plots. Synthesis. Our results provide evidence that tree species turnovers are partly controlled by spatially structured concentrations in soil nutrients at scales ranging from few hundreds of metres to c. 100 km, a poorly documented subject in Central African forests. We also highlight the usefulness of our testing procedure to correctly interpret the space-soil fraction of variation partitioning analyses (which always accounted here for the most important part of the soil contribution), as this fraction was sometimes relatively high (R2 values up to c. 0·3) but nearly or not significant. [less ▲]

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See detailRevealing hidden species diversity in closely related species using nuclear SNPs, SSRs and DNA sequences - a case study in the tree genus Milicia
Daïnou, Kasso ULiege; Blanc-Jolivet, Céline; Degen, Bernd et al

in BMC Evolutionary Biology (2016), 16(259), 15

Background: Species delimitation in closely related plant taxa can be challenging because (i) reproductive barriers are not always congruent with morphological differentiation, (ii) use of plastid ... [more ▼]

Background: Species delimitation in closely related plant taxa can be challenging because (i) reproductive barriers are not always congruent with morphological differentiation, (ii) use of plastid sequences might lead to misinterpretation, (iii) rare species might not be sampled. We revisited molecular-based species delimitation in the African genus Milicia, currently divided into M. regia (West Africa) and M. excelsa (from West to East Africa). We used 435 samples collected in West, Central and East Africa. We genotyped SNP and SSR loci to identify genetic clusters, and sequenced two plastid regions (psbA-trnH, trnC-ycf6) and a nuclear gene (At103) to confirm species’ divergence and compare species delimitation methods. We also examined whether ecological niche differentiation was congruent with sampled genetic structure. Results: West African M. regia, West African and East African M. excelsa samples constituted three well distinct genetic clusters according to SNPs and SSRs. In Central Africa, two genetic clusters were consistently inferred by both types of markers, while a few scattered samples, sympatric with the preceding clusters but exhibiting leaf traits of M. regia, were grouped with the West African M. regia cluster based on SNPs or formed a distinct cluster based on SSRs. SSR results were confirmed by sequence data from the nuclear region At103 which revealed three distinct ‘Fields For Recombination’ corresponding to (i) West African M. regia, (ii) Central African samples with leaf traits of M. regia, and (iii) all M. excelsa samples. None of the plastid sequences provide indication of distinct clades of the three species-like units. Niche modelling techniques yielded a significant correlation between niche overlap and genetic distance. Conclusions: Our genetic data suggest that three species of Milicia could be recognized. It is surprising that the occurrence of two species in Central Africa was not reported for this well-known timber tree. Globally, our work highlights the importance of collecting samples in a systematic way and the need for combining different nuclear markers when dealing with species complexes. Recognizing cryptic species is particularly crucial for economically exploited species because some hidden taxa might actually be endangered as they are merged with more abundant species. [less ▲]

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See detailEvolution in African tropical trees displaying ploidy-habitat association: The genus Afzelia (Leguminosae)
Donkpegan, Segbedji ULiege; Doucet, Jean-Louis ULiege; Migliore, Jérémy et al

in Molecular Phylogenetics & Evolution (2016)

Polyploidy has rarely been documented in rain forest trees but it has recently been found in African species of the genus Afzelia (Leguminosae), which is composed of four tetraploid rain forest species ... [more ▼]

Polyploidy has rarely been documented in rain forest trees but it has recently been found in African species of the genus Afzelia (Leguminosae), which is composed of four tetraploid rain forest species and two diploid dry forest species. The genus Afzelia thus provides an opportunity to examine how and when polyploidy and habitat shift occurred in Africa, and whether they are associated. In this study, we combined three plastid markers (psbA, trnL, ndhF), two nuclear markers (ribosomal ITS and the single-copy PEPC E7 gene), plastomes (obtained by High Throughput Sequencing) and morphological traits, with an extensive taxonomic and geographic sampling to explore the evolutionary history of Afzelia. Both nuclear DNA and morphological vegetative characters separated diploid from tetraploid lineages. Although the two African diploid species were well differentiated genetically and morphologically, the relationships among the tetraploid species were not resolved. In contrast to the nuclear markers, plastid markers revealed that one of the diploid species forms a well-supported clade with the tetraploids, suggesting historical hybridisation, possibly in relation with genome duplication (polyploidization) and habitat shift from dry to rain forests. Molecular dating based on fossil-anchored gene phylogenies indicates that extant Afzelia started diverging c. 14.5 or 20 Ma while extant tetraploid species started diverging c. 7.0 or 9.4 Ma according to plastid and nuclear DNA, respectively. Additional studies of tropical polyploid plants are needed to assess whether the ploidy-habitat association observed in African Afzelia would reflect a role of polyploidization in niche divergence in the tropics. [less ▲]

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See detailHautes Valeurs de Conservation (HVC) dans les Unités Forestières d'Aménagement du Cameroun : concepts, choix et pratiques
Daïnou, Kasso ULiege; Bracke, Charles; Vermeulen, Cédric ULiege et al

Book published by Presses Agronomiques de Gembloux (2016)

Le système de certification FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) vise à promouvoir la gestion durable des forêts. Il repose sur un ensemble de normes dont une est particulièrement complexe à mettre en oeuvre ... [more ▼]

Le système de certification FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) vise à promouvoir la gestion durable des forêts. Il repose sur un ensemble de normes dont une est particulièrement complexe à mettre en oeuvre en Afrique Centrale, le principe 9 traitant des Hautes Valeurs de Conservation (HVC). Ce principe devrait être interprété aux échelons nationaux afin de prendre en compte les spécificités de chaque pays. Bien que des ouvrages aient déjà été élaborés par diverses organisations, aucun ne cible particulièrement les grandes concessions forestières. Au Cameroun, ces concessions ou Unités Forestières d’Aménagement (UFA), représentent pourtant 40 % du domaine forestier national. Le présent guide ambitionne de fournir aux acteurs de la gestion forestière au Cameroun les connaissances les plus pertinentes afin de leur permettre d’identifier, de gérer et de suivre les Hautes Valeurs de Conservation dans les UFA. Il se démarque des précédents guides par plusieurs points : (i) une revue bibliographique détaillée est fournie sur le sujet épineux de l’identification de chaque HVC, et l’opinion des auteurs y est mise en exergue; (ii) la démarche d’identification est appuyée par les références les plus pertinentes, évitant au gestionnaire de se disperser dans sa quête de documentation; (iii) sur la base de leur expérience, les auteurs proposent une série de menaces pouvant affecter les HVC, de mesures de gestion et d’indicateurs de suivi. L’approche développée se base sur des méthodes empiriques et pragmatiques d’une part et, d’autre part, sur des études scientifiques. Cet ouvrage devrait constituer une base intéressante pour une interprétation solide des HVC au Cameroun. De plus, bien que ciblant les UFA camerounaises, il pourrait inspirer d’autres acteurs forestiers œuvrant dans le Bassin du Congo. [less ▲]

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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 ULiege; Biwolé, Achille; Gorel, Anaïs ULiege et al

in Holocene (2016), 26(12), 1954-1967

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 detailAssessment of fine scale population genetic diversity and regeneration in Congo basin logged forests
Evrard, Quentin ULiege; Daïnou, Kasso ULiege; Hardy, Olivier et al

Poster (2016, June)

Background In the Congo Basin most of the light-demanding timber tree species display a deficit of natural regeneration which is a major handicap for sustainable production and certification. Whilst the ... [more ▼]

Background In the Congo Basin most of the light-demanding timber tree species display a deficit of natural regeneration which is a major handicap for sustainable production and certification. Whilst the majority of scientists investigate abiotic and biotic factors explaining that pattern, we hypothesize that tree population density or individual spatial isolation may also affect the tree fitness through inbreeding. In this study, we integrate ecological and genetic approaches to characterize the regeneration potential of a set of priority timber species by (i) estimating pollen dispersal distances at various tree population densities, and (ii) evaluating the impact of increasing spatial isolation on mating characteristics and tree fitness. The ultimate goal is the proposal of minimum population density that prevents inbreeding consequences. Method This ongoing study focuses on 10 timber species (Pericopsis elata, Milicia excelsa, Baillonella toxisperma, Entandrophragma cylindricum, E. utile, E. angolense, E. candollei, Afzelia bipindensis, Erythrophleum suaveloens, Terminalia superba). The data collection was carried out in the logging concession granted to Pallisco in Cameroon. We established two 400-ha plots, where all individuals (DBH > 10 cm) of the target species were inventoried and mapped. A sample of leave or cambium was collected for each of these individuals, as well as for seedlings to characterize patterns of gene flow using genetic tools (nuclear microsatellites). Dispersal agents were identified by direct observations and camera traps. Germination success was characterized in nursery for seeds collected on trees under an increasing isolation gradient. Results Main dispersal agents (wind, bat, rodent) and predators (rodent) were identified for all the species. The gene flow and germination data is still being analyzed and the main results will be presented in the poster. Conclusion Our data will allow characterizing the reproductive biology of a set of important timber species from the Congo basin. These information will strengthen sustainable forest management and the application of certification by adjusting harvesting norms through the use of scientifically-relevant data. In particular, we will tentatively define a maximum distance to be maintained between two adults to allow a qualitative reproduction. [less ▲]

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See detailEnrichment of Central African logged forests with high-value tree species: testing a new approach to regenerating degraded forests
Doucet, Jean-Louis ULiege; Daïnou, Kasso ULiege; Ligot, Gauthier ULiege et al

in International Journal of Biodiversity Science, Ecosystem Services and Management (2016)

In natural forests of Central Africa, several studies indicate a dramatic decrease in commercial trees, including species of concern for conservation. Enrichment planting with these species will favor ... [more ▼]

In natural forests of Central Africa, several studies indicate a dramatic decrease in commercial trees, including species of concern for conservation. Enrichment planting with these species will favor both the long-term recovery of their populations and biodiversity conservation in logged forests. In this study, we analyzed the survival and growth of 23 species in plantations. Fourteen 0.2–1.1 ha mixed species plantations consisting of single-species 15 × 15 m blocks were studied for 5 years in a logging concession of southeastern Cameroon. The plantation design considered both species light requirements and sensitivity to damage by pests. To identify the best species for enrichment planting, we assessed both species performance and plantation costs. We also tested for relationships between species traits and species performance. Mean annual diameter growth increments ranged from 1.67 to 42.9 mm. No significant relationship was found between growth and survival. Herbivory by wild Bovidae was the main cause of mortality and should be carefully considered in rehabilitation efforts. We found a significant negative relationship between wood density and maximum growth rate. The other traits tested were not good predictors of species performance in plantations. The two best-performing species, Triplochiton scleroxylon and Terminalia superba, could reach the minimum cutting diameter during a 30-year cutting cycle. Costs were high and mechanized site preparation is suggested to reduce them. Widespread adoption of such plantations will only occur if financial incentives or national regulations for assuring regeneration are implemented. [less ▲]

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See detailRelationships between population density, fine-scale genetic structure, mating system and pollen dispersal in a timber tree from African rainforests
Duminil, Jérôme; Daïnou, Kasso ULiege; Kaviriri, D.K. et al

in Heredity (2016), 116

Owing to the reduction of population density and/or the environmental changes it induces, selective logging could affect the demography, reproductive biology and evolutionary potential of forest trees ... [more ▼]

Owing to the reduction of population density and/or the environmental changes it induces, selective logging could affect the demography, reproductive biology and evolutionary potential of forest trees. This is particularly relevant in tropical forests where natural population densities can be low and isolated trees may be subject to outcross pollen limitation and/or produce low-quality selfed seeds that exhibit inbreeding depression. Comparing reproductive biology processes and genetic diversity of populations at different densities can provide indirect evidence of the potential impacts of logging. Here, we analysed patterns of genetic diversity, mating system and gene flow in three Central African populations of the self-compatible legume timber species Erythrophleum suaveolens with contrasting densities (0.11, 0.68 and 1.72 adults per ha). The comparison of inbreeding levels among cohorts suggests that selfing is detrimental as inbred individuals are eliminated between seedling and adult stages. Levels of genetic diversity, selfing rates (∼16%) and patterns of spatial genetic structure (Sp ∼ 0.006) were similar in all three populations. However, the extent of gene dispersal differed markedly among populations: the average distance of pollen dispersal increased with decreasing density (from 200m in the high-density population to 1000m in the low-density one). Overall, our results suggest that the reproductive biology and genetic diversity of the species are not affected by current logging practices. However, further investigations need to be conducted in low-density populations to evaluate (1) whether pollen limitation may reduce seed production and (2) the regeneration potential of the species. [less ▲]

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See detailLate-Holocene tropical moist-forests of southeastern Cameroon: some insight from soil charcoal analysis
Morin, Julie ULiege; Biwolé, Achille; Bourland, Nils et al

Conference (2015, August)

Tropical forests of Central Africa constitute the second most important block of moist forest of the world. Little is known, however, about past vegetation in this region that remains underexplored ... [more ▼]

Tropical forests of Central Africa constitute the second most important block of moist forest of the world. Little is known, however, about past vegetation in this region that remains underexplored (Vleminckx et al. 2014; Morin-Rivat et al. 2014). Determining the past specific composition of these forests could allow bringing insights into their evolution over time and providing data about their resilience capacity facing global change. We performed a pedoanthracological analysis in the semi-deciduous forests of southeastern Cameroon. We excavated 53 test pits of 53 50 × 50 × 60 cm in plots of botanical inventory along a NS 80-km long mega-transect that followed a vegetation gradient. We sorted and quantified charred macrobotanical remains by layers of 10 cm, then identified species from wood charcoals. We used the InsideWood database, implemented with 163 new anatomical descriptions of woods present in the study area by using the reference collection of African woods of the Royal Museum for Central Africa (Belgium). Finally, we obtained 25 radiocarbon dates on charcoals and oil palm endocarps. Results showed that repeated fire events occurred across the study area during the last 2500 years, soon after the well-documented “rainforest crisis” (e.g. Lézine et al. 2013). The analyzed charcoals are likely human-induced regarding evidence of associated human settlements (e.g. potsherds). Aged were distributed into two time periods: the Early Iron Age (2300-1300 BP) and the Late Iron Age (700-100 BP) with an intermediate hiatus in human occupation (see e.g. Wotzka 2006; Morin-Rivat et al. 2014). Specific composition during both periods did not strongly differ from current composition, which is now dominated by light-demanding canopy trees belonging to old-growth semi-deciduous Celtis forests (Gond et al. 2013; Fayolle et al. 2014). This argues in favor of the maintenance of light-demanding tree species by anthropogenic activities, such as slash-and-burn shifting cultivation. We conclude that moist forests have a good resilience capacity regarding moderate and scattered disturbances. These forests can nonetheless be deeply impacted by land-use intensification (e.g. degraded forests along roads and close to cities; Gond et al. 2013). [less ▲]

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See detailEvolutionary drivers of species delimitation in African polyploid complex trees genus Afzelia: insights from molecular phylogeny
Donkpegan, Segbedji ULiege; Duminil, Jérôme; Daïnou, Kasso ULiege et al

Conference (2015, July 13)

Background:. Molecular markers can improve our knowledge of the rain forest biodiversity, especially to decipher species evolution and delimitation within genera. In this study, we investigated ... [more ▼]

Background:. Molecular markers can improve our knowledge of the rain forest biodiversity, especially to decipher species evolution and delimitation within genera. In this study, we investigated evolutionary relationships among the Afzelia genus, an important tropical timber taxon in Africa.. Method: We used nuclear and chloroplast DNA associated with partial plastome sequences data to infer phylogenetic relationships among the six broadly distributed species of the genus: A. africana and A. quanzensis (savannah species), A. bipindensis, A. bella, A. pachyloba and A. parviflora (forest species). Using microsatellite markers (SSR), we also applied a clustering analysis (STRUCTURE) to verify whether the current taxonomic species delimitation matches the biological species concept. Result and discussion: Our SSR data showed for the first time that savannah species were diploid while forest species were tetraploid. Nuclear DNA separates diploid and tetraploid species in two distinct cladesbut plastid markers show that one diploid species forms a well-supported clade with the tetraploids, suggesting historical hybridization, possibly in relation with genome duplication (polyploidization) and habitat shift from dry to rain forests. The genetic structure observed with SSR confirms the taxonomic delimitation of the two diploid species and one tetraploid species (A. pachyloba). It also suggests the existence of a single Afzelia forest species in West Africa, and the presence of two distint species within the A. bipindensis taxon, with potential hybridization with A. bella. Conclusion: The evolutionary history of the genus Afzelia is complex and the potential link between polyploidization and habitat shift needs further investigation. Our data also show that species delimitation must be revisited, at least among three of the four rain forest species. [less ▲]

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

Conference (2015, April)

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See detailDifferential Performance between Two Timber Species in Forest Logging Gaps and in Plantations in Central Africa
Fayolle, Adeline ULiege; Ouedraogo, Dakis-Yaoba ULiege; Ligot, Gauthier ULiege 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 detailHow Tightly Linked Are Pericopsis elata (Fabaceae) Patches to Anthropogenic Disturbances in Southeastern Cameroon?
Bourland, Nils; Cerisier, François; Daïnou, Kasso ULiege 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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