References of "Doucet, Jean-Louis"
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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 (in press)

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 detailLate Pleistocene molecular dating of past population fragmentation and demographic changes in African rain forest tree species supports the forest refuge hypothesis
Duminil, Jérôme; Mona, Stefano; Mardulyn, Patrick et al

in Journal of Biogeography (in press)

Aim : Phylogeographical signatures of past population fragmentation and demographic change have been reported in several African rain forest trees. These signatures have usually been interpreted in the ... [more ▼]

Aim : Phylogeographical signatures of past population fragmentation and demographic change have been reported in several African rain forest trees. These signatures have usually been interpreted in the light of the Pleistocene forest refuge hypothesis, although dating these events has remained impracticable because of inadequate genetic markers. We assess the timing of interspecific and intraspecific genetic differentiation and demographic changes within two rain forest Erythrophleum tree species (Fabaceae: Caesalpinioideae). Location : Tropical forests of Upper Guinea (West Africa) and Lower Guinea (Atlantic Central Africa). Methods : Six single-copy nuclear genes were used to characterize the phylogeographical patterns of the parapatric sister species Erythrophleum suaveolens (characteristic of semi-deciduous or gallery forests) and Erythrophleum ivorense (characteristic of evergreen forests). The number of gene pools within each species was determined and the timings of their divergence and past demographic changes were estimated using Bayesian-based coalescent approaches. Results : Three geographically separated gene pools were identified within E. suaveolens, and a single gene pool was inferred in E. ivorense. All gene pools show signatures of demographic bottlenecks concomitant with the last glacial period (c. 120–12 ka). Species-tree inferences show that the two species diverged c. 600 ka, whereas the divergence between E. suaveolens gene pools was dated to the late Pleistocene (first divergence c. 120 ka, second c. 60 ka). Main conclusions : (1) Molecular dating of demographic changes of two African tropical forest tree species is consistent with the Pleistocene forest refuge hypothesis. (2) Tree species from Guinean evergreen tropical forests might have been less affected by past climate change than semi-deciduous species. (3) Our phylogeographical data support a recent date (Holocene) of the last opening of the Dahomey Gap. [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 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 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 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)

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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)

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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 detailLe genre Guibourtia Benn., un taxon à haute valeur commerciale et sociétale (synthèse bibliographique)
Tosso, Dji-ndé Félicien ULg; Daïnou, Kasso ULg; Hardy, J. Olivier et al

in Biotechnologie, Agronomie, Société et Environnement = Biotechnology, Agronomy, Society and Environment [=BASE] (2015), 19(1),

Known as a genus of great socio-cultural and economical importance, Guibourtia Benn. includes morphologically very similar multipurpose sister species, found in various habitats with different climate and ... [more ▼]

Known as a genus of great socio-cultural and economical importance, Guibourtia Benn. includes morphologically very similar multipurpose sister species, found in various habitats with different climate and soil conditions. In many places, Guibourtia is subject to local overexploitation by forest companies and local communities. As the population density of Guibourtia species is generally very low, it may be necessary to conduct scientific investigations that will provide valuable information for the management of the populations concerned. This paper is based on an extensive literature review and summarizes the available information on the genus Guibourtia, in terms of botany, ecology, genetics, forestry and ethnobotany. Our review provided evidence that, to date, ecological and silvicultural knowledge regarding Guibourtia species is lacking and that it is very difficult to morphologically differentiate very similar sister species. In addition, we provide a new determination key for the genus Guibourtia. Based on the available information, it is difficult to assess the conservation status of these taxa. Further investigations are needed to suggest appropriate management strategies for Guibourtia. Moreover, species diversity within this genus and its distribution in various tropical biomes make it an excellent biological model for understanding the historical, biological and environmental mechanisms that explain the diversity of tropical moist forests. [less ▲]

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See detailLe genre Erythrophleum (Fabaceae) en Afrique, un modèle pour l’étude des mécanismes de différenciation de niches climatiques
Gorel, Anaïs ULg; Duminil, Jérôme; Doucet, Jean-Louis ULg et al

Conference (2014, December 16)

Comprendre l’origine des patrons de diversité est un défi en écologie des communautés et en écologie évolutive, notamment dans le contexte du futur changement climatique. Ce poster aura deux objectifs : i ... [more ▼]

Comprendre l’origine des patrons de diversité est un défi en écologie des communautés et en écologie évolutive, notamment dans le contexte du futur changement climatique. Ce poster aura deux objectifs : i) présenter pourquoi le genre Erythrophleum en Afrique est un modèle d’étude idéal à la compréhension des mécanismes de différenciation de niche et de spéciation au sein d’une lignée d’arbre en région tropicale; ii) mettre en lumière les démarches statistiques et expérimentales permettant de valider et de comprendre ces mécanismes. Le genre Erythrophleum, largement distribué en Afrique, est représenté par quatre espèces d’arbre : E. ivorense, E. suaveolens, E. africanum et E. lasianthum. Ces espèces morphologiquement très proches, présentent des aires de distribution géographiques et climatiques adjacentes. Elles sont distribuées de façon parapatrique sur un gradient pluviométrique, du plus humide pour E. ivorense ou plus sec pour E. lasianthum. Ce mode de distribution apparent, combiné à des données issues d’études phylogénétiques, suggère un rôle majeur des gradients climatiques comme pilotes des différenciations spécifiques du genre et pourrait donc confirmer l’hypothèse du gradient écologique (« The ecological gradient hypothesis » suppose que des gradients environnementaux peuvent induire des spéciations parapatriques sans que les populations ne soient isolées géographiquement. Néanmoins, des études sur les niches climatiques et leurs degrés de conservatisme sont indispensables pour valider cette hypothèse. Aujourd’hui, ces études sont rendues plus aisées grâce au développement de nouvelles techniques de modélisation des niches environnementales (Species Distribution Model ou SDM) et de tests statistiques de quantification du conservatisme/divergence de niche (voire Warren et al., 2008). En complément de la modélisation des niches observées (c.à.d. niches réalisées selon la définition de Hutchison (1957)), il est intéressant de comprendre les stratégies fonctionnelles sous-jacentes aux différenciations de niche. Les différenciations de niche au sein des espèces du genre sont probablement issues d’une distinction de leurs stratégies d’utilisation des ressources (lumière/eau) et de leurs différents positionnements au sein du slow-fast continuum (sensu Reich, 2014). Cette hypothèse peut être testée par la mise en place d’expériences en milieu contrôlé mesurant les réponses des individus à des stress environnementaux. [less ▲]

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See detailLes progrès de la foresterie sociale en Afrique centrale
Vermeulen, Cédric ULg; Doucet, Jean-Louis ULg

Conference given outside the academic context (2014)

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See detailIntegrating phylogenetic and environmental niche models to explore speciation mechanisms in the Erythrophleum genus in tropical Africa
Gorel, Anaïs ULg; Fayolle, Adeline ULg; Doucet, Jean-Louis ULg et al

Conference (2014, December 10)

In the context of global climate change, it is of primary importance to understand the species response to climate (habitat tracking or adaptation). In this study we investigated the evolutionary history ... [more ▼]

In the context of global climate change, it is of primary importance to understand the species response to climate (habitat tracking or adaptation). In this study we investigated the evolutionary history of the climatic niche between and within closely related tropical tree species of the Erythrophleum genus (Fabaceae, Caesalpinioideae): E. ivorense, E. suaveolens and E. africanum. Two major hypotheses, the refuge theory and the ecological gradient hypothesis, have been developed to explain the current distribution of tree clades across tropical Africa. To identify the speciation mechanisms, we used a combination of geographic data and environmental factors to quantify the degree of niche conservatism (or divergence). We used two sets of distribution data for the purpose of this study. Species distribution data for the whole of tropical Africa were gathered from herbarium records. Distribution data of the two sister species E. ivorense and E. suaveolens assigned to genetic cluster were available for the lowland tropical forests of western and central Africa. Using a Species Distribution Model (SDM) approach based on MaxEnt algorithm, we tested for the environmental differences (BIOCLIM data) between species and genetic clusters within species. We developed SDMs for each of the three Erythrophleum species (over the whole range) and for each of the five genetic clusters. We quantified the niche overlap using new niche similarity metrics. At species level, the climatic niches differed significantly and overlapped only sligthly, suggesting a parapatric speciation along a climatic gradient. Within the two sister species, the niche of the parapatric central African clusters strongly overlapped, suggesting a secondary contact following the recolonization from different forest refugia. The west African cluster however showed contrasted climatic niches possibly due to either recent (< 100 yrs) climate change in west Africa, or ongoing differentiation on the dry part of the climatic gradient. [less ▲]

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See detailEnrichment of Logging Gaps with a High Conservation Value Species (Pericopsis elata) in a Central African Moist Forest
Ouedraogo, Dakis-Yaoba ULg; Fayolle, Adeline ULg; Daïnou, Kasso ULg et al

in Forests (2014), 5(12), 3031-3047

In central Africa, most of the timber species require high light at the seedling stage for survival and growth. Forest managers face a regeneration shortage of these light-demanding timber species. To ... [more ▼]

In central Africa, most of the timber species require high light at the seedling stage for survival and growth. Forest managers face a regeneration shortage of these light-demanding timber species. To achieve long-term sustainability, there is a need for enrichment methods combining low cost and high species performance. The aim of this study was to assess the performance of Pericopsis elata seedlings in enriched logging gaps in Cameroon. Over five years; the survival and size of each seedling was monitored in 27 logging gaps that were either left without maintenance or cleared. Gaps were relatively small with an average total area of 155 m2. We found that planted seedlings of P. elata performed well in logging gaps. Even without any maintenance 61% of the planted seedlings survived after five years with an average annual diameter increment of 0.28 cm. P. elata appeared to be a good candidate species for enrichment in logging gaps. We demonstrated that the seedlings of P. elata tolerated a wide range of soil conditions but that their performance was strongly influenced by light availability (gap clearance), suggesting potentially improved performance of P. elata in high light environments such as in plantation or larger gaps. [less ▲]

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See detailSoil charcoal to assess the impacts of past human disturbances on tropical forests
Vleminckx, Jason; Morin-Rivat, Julie ULg; Biwolé, Achille et al

in PLoS ONE (2014)

The canopy of many central African forests is dominated by light-demanding tree species that do not regenerate well under themselves. The prevalence of these species might result from ancient slash-and ... [more ▼]

The canopy of many central African forests is dominated by light-demanding tree species that do not regenerate well under themselves. The prevalence of these species might result from ancient slash-and-burn agricultural activities that created large openings, while a decline of these activities since the colonial period could explain their deficit of regeneration. To verify this hypothesis, we compared soil charcoal abundance, used as a proxy for past slash-and-burn agriculture, and tree species composition assessed on 208 rainforest 0.2 ha plots located in three areas from Southern Cameroon. Species were classified in regeneration guilds (pioneer, non-pioneer light-demanding, shade-bearer) and characterized by their woodspecific gravity, assumed to reflect light requirement. We tested the correlation between soil charcoal abundance and: (i) the relative abundance of each guild, (ii) each species and family abundance and (iii) mean wood-specific gravity. Charcoal was found in 83% of the plots, indicating frequent past forest fires. Radiocarbon dating revealed two periods of fires: ‘‘recent’’ charcoal were on average 300 years old (up to 860 BP, n = 16) and occurred in the uppermost 20 cm soil layer, while ‘‘ancient’’ charcoal were on average 1900 years old (range: 1500 to 2800 BP, n = 43, excluding one sample dated 9400 BP), and found in all soil layers. While we expected a positive correlation between the relative abundance of light demanding species and charcoal abundance in the upper soil layer, overall there was no evidence that the current heterogeneity in tree species composition can be explained by charcoal abundance in any soil layer. The absence of signal supporting our hypothesis might result from (i) a relatively uniform impact of past slash-and-burn activities, (ii) pedoturbation processes bringing ancient charcoal to the upper soil layer, blurring the signal of centuries-old Human disturbances, or (iii) the prevalence of other environmental factors on species composition. [less ▲]

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