References of "Gillet, Jean-François"
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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

in Holocene (in press)

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 detailInfluence of frugivore taxa on the generation of plant recruitment foci and on the composition of plant recruits’ communities
Trolliet, Franck ULg; Forget, Pierre-Michel; Doucet, Jean-Louis ULg et al

Conference (2016, June 20)

Frugivores can disperse seeds in a spatially contagious pattern and generate recruitment foci (e.g. under fruiting trees). This process is increasingly explored to understand the influence of frugivores ... [more ▼]

Frugivores can disperse seeds in a spatially contagious pattern and generate recruitment foci (e.g. under fruiting trees). This process is increasingly explored to understand the influence of frugivores on the spatial organization of plant communities, and can also serve as a method to efficiently monitor the consequences of animal extirpation. However, there is limited evidence contrasting the influence of different frugivores taxa on the creation of recruitment foci under fruiting trees, and, similarly, on the overall composition of plant communities. Here, we aimed (i) to compare the role of hornbills and primates in creating recruitment foci, and (ii) to investigate how the presence of hornbills, primates and elephants influence the overall composition of plant recruit’s community in an anthropized forest-savanna mosaic in DR Congo. We firstly compared the community of recruits (0.5-2 m high) in 25-m² plots below hornbill-dispersed trees (Staudtia kamerunensis, N=32), primate-dispersed trees (Dialium spp., N=26), and in control plots located below other tree species (N= 4900 m²). Secondly, we considered all plots to compare the community of recruits in five sites characterized by contrasted levels of hunting and housing different seed disperser communities. Our preliminary results indicate (i) communities of recruits below hornbill-dispersed trees are significantly more dense and richer than in control plots, unlike these below primate-dispersed trees. Also, (ii) recruits in sites less affected by hunting, housing more large frugivores, including elephants, tend to belong to species with longer seeds. We conclude that hornbills generate recruitment foci under fruiting trees, which can serve as an efficient tool to monitor the ecological consequences of their extirpation. Moreover, we discuss the potential influence of the different studied frugivore taxa and the risk of their extirpation from afro-tropical forests on the composition of plant recruits’ community. [less ▲]

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See detailThe determinants of tropical forest deciduousness: disentangling the effects of rainfall and geology in central Africa
Ouedraogo, Dakis-Yaoba ULg; Fayolle, Adeline ULg; Gourlet-Fleury, Sylvie et al

in Journal of Ecology (2016)

1. Understanding the environmental determinants of forests deciduousness i.e. proportion of deciduous trees in a forest stand, is of great importance when predicting the impact of ongoing global climate ... [more ▼]

1. Understanding the environmental determinants of forests deciduousness i.e. proportion of deciduous trees in a forest stand, is of great importance when predicting the impact of ongoing global climate change on forests. In this study, we examine (i) how forest deciduousness varies in relation to rainfall and geology, and (ii) whether the influence of geology on deciduousness could be related to differences in soil fertility and water content between geological substrates. 2. The study was conducted in mixed moist semi-deciduous forests in the northern part of the Congo basin. We modelled the response of forest deciduousness to the severity of the dry season across four contrasting geological substrates (sandstone, alluvium, metamorphic and basic rocks). For this, we combined information on forest composition at genus level based on commercial forest inventories (62 624 0.5 ha plots scattered over 6 million of ha), leaf habit, and rainfall and geological maps. We further examined whether substrates differ in soil fertility and water-holding capacity using soil data from 37 pits in an area that was, at the time, relatively unexplored. 3. Forest deciduousness increased with the severity of the dry season, and this increase strongly varied with the geological substrate. Geology was found to be three times more important than the rainfall regime in explaining the total variation in deciduousness. The four substrates differed in soil properties, with higher fertility and water-holding capacity on metamorphic and basic rocks than on sandstone and alluvium. The increase in forest deciduousness was stronger on the substrates that formed resource-rich clay soils (metamorphic and basic rocks) than on substrates that formed resource-poor sandy soils (sandstone and alluvium). 4. Synthesis. We found evidence that tropical forest deciduousness is the result of both the competitive advantage of deciduous species in climates with high rainfall seasonality, and the persistence of evergreen species on resource-poor soils. Our findings offer a clear illustration of wellknown theoretical leaf carbon economy models, explaining the patterns in the dominance of evergreen versus deciduous species. And, this large-scale assessment of the interaction between climate and geology in determining forest deciduousness may help to improve future predictions of vegetation distribution under climate change scenarios. In central Africa, forest is likely to respond differently to variation in rainfall and/or evapotranspiration depending on the geological substrate. [less ▲]

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See detailSeeing Central African forests through their largest trees
Bastin, Jean-François ULg; Barbier, Nicolas; Réjou-Méchain, Maxime et al

in Scientific Reports (2015)

Large tropical trees and a few dominant species were recently identified as the main structuring elements of tropical forests. However, such result did not translate yet into quantitative approaches which ... [more ▼]

Large tropical trees and a few dominant species were recently identified as the main structuring elements of tropical forests. However, such result did not translate yet into quantitative approaches which are essential to understand, predict and monitor forest functions and composition over large, often poorly accessible territories. Here we show that the above-ground biomass (AGB) of the whole forest can be predicted from a few large trees and that the relationship is proved strikingly stable in 175 1-ha plots investigated across 8 sites spanning Central Africa. We designed a generic model predicting AGB with an error of 14% when based on only 5% of the stems, which points to universality in forest structural properties. For the first time in Africa, we identified some dominant species that disproportionally contribute to forest AGB with 1.5% of recorded species accounting for over 50% of the stock of AGB. Consequently, focusing on large trees and dominant species provides precise information on the whole forest stand. This offers new perspectives for understanding the functioning of tropical forests and opens new doors for the development of innovative monitoring strategies. [less ▲]

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See detailLate-Holocene tropical moist-forests of southeastern Cameroon: some insight from soil charcoal analysis
Morin, Julie ULg; 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 detailAn estimate of the number of tropical tree species
Slik, J.W. Ferry; Arroyo-Rodriguez, Victor; Aiba, Shin-Ichiro et al

in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2015), 112(24), 7472-7477

The high species richness of tropical forests has long been recognized, yet there remains substantial uncertainty regarding the actual number of tropical tree species. Using a pantropical tree inventory ... [more ▼]

The high species richness of tropical forests has long been recognized, yet there remains substantial uncertainty regarding the actual number of tropical tree species. Using a pantropical tree inventory database from closed canopy forests, consisting of 657,630 trees belonging to 11,371 species, we use a fitted value of Fisher’s alpha and an approximate pantropical stem total to estimate the minimum number of tropical forest tree species to fall between ∼40,000 and ∼53,000, i.e., at the high end of previous estimates. Contrary to common assumption, the Indo-Pacific region was found to be as species-rich as the Neotropics, with both regions having a minimum of ∼19,000–25,000 tree species. Continental Africa is relatively depauperate with a minimum of ∼4,500–6,000 tree species. Very few species are shared among the African, American, and the Indo-Pacific regions. We provide a methodological framework for estimating species richness in trees that may help refine species richness estimates of tree-dependent taxa. [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 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 detailDid the savannah « flourished » 3000 years ago in the so-called Sangha River Interval of the Guineo-Congolian rainforest ? A retrospective study using stable isotopes and phytoliths
Bentaleb, Ilham; Freycon, Vincent; Gillet, Jean-François et al

Poster (2015, April)

We aim to improve our knowledge of the dynamic of the vegetation in Central Africa during the last 5 kyrs and to discuss the main hypothesis described in the literature - humans versus climatic impacts ... [more ▼]

We aim to improve our knowledge of the dynamic of the vegetation in Central Africa during the last 5 kyrs and to discuss the main hypothesis described in the literature - humans versus climatic impacts- both suggested as responsible of the Congo basin rainforest decline observed between 3 and 2.5 kyrs. We use the carbon isotopic composition of well-dated Central African soils to reconstruct the dynamic of the vegetation cover. We will discuss the carbon isotopic composition of the soil organic carbon methodology for reconstructing palaeovegetation in the light of Rayleigh distillation model. We showed that numerous sites exhibit a carbon isotopic ratios reflecting the Rayleigh distillation but few sites recorded real vegetation changes. Our study suggests that the vegetation of the Guineo-Congolian Region was disturbed between 3000 and 2000 BP (Before Present) without an extreme savannah expansion. We discussed the two hypotheses human versus climate impacts that may conduct to such new physiography of the vegetation. We suggest that the climate hypothesis is more likely than the human impact to explain the reduction of the Guineo-Congolian rainforest 3000 years ago. [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 detailLate-Holocene moist forests of Central Africa: contribution of charcoal analysis
Morin, Julie ULg; Bremond, Laurent; Gillet, Jean-François et al

Poster (2014, December)

Wood charcoals are often uncovered in the soils of the tropical regions. They remain little studied, however, and this observation is even truer for charcoals coming from the dense humid forests of ... [more ▼]

Wood charcoals are often uncovered in the soils of the tropical regions. They remain little studied, however, and this observation is even truer for charcoals coming from the dense humid forests of Central Africa. Here we aim at showing the interest of the analysis of soil charcoals in this region so as to understand the dynamics of past forest environments during the late-Holocene. Several examples of taxonomical identifications conducted on charcoals sampled in soil pits in Cameroon and in the Republic of the Congo are presented along with radiocarbon dates. These charcoals were hand-split then observed under an incident light microscope. The wood anatomical features that were preserved in charcoals and described according to a standard method were compared to a reference collection of woods. Results demonstrated that past burnings that spanned from 2,500 BP to Recent were human-induced and scattered in the study area. The identified species are still present in the environment today and localized changes in the vegetation occurred over the past two millennia. Charcoal analysis can thus allow a better understanding of the past history of the tropical forests in relationship with the ancient anthropogenic disturbances. [less ▲]

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See detailAnalyse à haute résolution spatiale et temporelle des activités humaines à l’Holocène récent dans les forêts humides d’Afrique Centrale
Morin, Julie ULg; Gorel, Anaïs ULg; Biwolé, Achille et al

Poster (2014, November)

Des études paléoécologiques et archéologiques ont démontré que les populations humaines ont de longue date investi les forêts humides d’Afrique Centrale. Les occupations humaines ont toutefois été peu ... [more ▼]

Des études paléoécologiques et archéologiques ont démontré que les populations humaines ont de longue date investi les forêts humides d’Afrique Centrale. Les occupations humaines ont toutefois été peu documentées en raison de difficultés relatives à l’accès au terrain. Nous présentons ici une méthodologie systématique basée sur la quantification et la datation des macrorestes botaniques carbonisés pour définir les activités humaines passées en forêt tropicale africaine. Pour cela, 53 sondages équidistants ont été creusés dans 3 sites du sud-est-du Cameroun. Dans chaque sondage ont été prélevées des quantités fixes de sol par couche de 10 cm. Les macrorestes botaniques carbonisés ont été récoltés par tamisage à l’eau directement sur le site. Les refus de tamis ont été triés (charbons de bois, endocarpes de palmier à huile, graines non identifiées), pesés sur une balance de précision et analysés statistiquement. En outre, 25 échantillons ont été datés par AMS. Les résultats montrent que les activités humaines sont réparties en deux périodes : l’âge du Fer ancien entre 2300 et 1300 BP et l’âge du Fer récent entre 670 BP et l’actuel. En outre, les charbons de bois et les endocarpes de palmier à huile ne représentent pas le même type d’activités. Deux villages âge du Fer ancien datés d’environ 2000 BP ont été identifiés par la présence concomitante d’endocarpes de palmier à huile et de tessons céramiques. Les motifs circulaires imprimés dans la céramique et inédits pour la zone d’étude rappellent les gravures et décors céramiques découverts au Gabon et dans la zone de la Sangha-Likwala-aux-Herbes, datés également de 2000 BP. L’abondance décroissante des charbons dans l’orbe d’influence de ces villages pourrait correspondre à d’anciennes zones agricoles. Les perturbations les plus récentes peuvent, quant à elles, être mises en relation avec la végétation actuelle, en particulier les arbres émergents héliophiles qui dominent la composition floristique et qui sont des recrus post-culturaux. Pour la première fois, une méthodologie quantitative basée sur les restes archéobotaniques a été appliquée en Afrique Centrale. Elle nous a permis de documenter à haute résolution la répartition spatiale et temporelle des activités humaines à l’échelle locale. Ce travail sera poursuivi par une reconstitution paléoenvironnementale à partir de l’identification des macrorestes végétaux. [less ▲]

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See detailKnowing the past to anticipate the future: soil charcoal as a proxy to model forest evolution
Morin, Julie ULg; Biwolé, Achille; Bourland, Nils et al

Poster (2014, October)

Tropical forests of Central Africa constitute the second most important block of moist forest of the world. However little is known about their past evolution. Indeed, determining the past specific ... [more ▼]

Tropical forests of Central Africa constitute the second most important block of moist forest of the world. However little is known about their past evolution. Indeed, determining the past specific composition of these forests could allow modeling their evolution over time and providing data about their resilience capacity facing global change. To do this, we performed a pedoanthracological analysis in the semi-deciduous forests of southeastern Cameroon. We excavated test pits in 53 plots of botanical inventory along a gradient of vegetation, quantified wood charcoals by layers of 10 cm, identify the species present in charcoals, dated the charcoals by the radiocarbon method, then built up sequences including present forest composition. Results show that repeated fire events occurred across the study area during the last 2500 years. These disturbances are likely human-induced regarding evidence of anthropogenic activities (e.g. potsherds). Nonetheless the past specific composition does not strongly differ from the current one except for the oldest layers related to the major dry climatic event of 2500 BP. We conclude that moist forests have a good resilience capacity regarding moderate disturbances but were and will be deeply impacted by climate change. [less ▲]

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