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See detailRecords of human activity during the late-Holocene in the soils of the African dense humid forest
Morin-Rivat, Julie ULg; Biwolé, Achille; Bourland, Nils ULg et al

Conference (2014, April 30)

Recently, several authors gathered data about the presence of past human populations in tropical regions covered by dense forest nowadays. In central Africa, there is a growing body of evidence for past ... [more ▼]

Recently, several authors gathered data about the presence of past human populations in tropical regions covered by dense forest nowadays. In central Africa, there is a growing body of evidence for past human settlements along the Atlantic coast, but very little information is available further inland. In this perspective, soil records seem to be the most appropriated so as to appraise the spatial and temporal extent of human activity in the African dense humid forest. In this paper, we thus aimed to present a synthesis of the archaeological and archaeobotanical data obtained during several fieldwork campaigns in an archaeologically unexplored area of 200,000 km² located in southern Cameroon and the northern Republic of Congo. A total of 275 test pits, among them 30 pedological pits up to 150 cm deep, were excavated in the study area. So as to get a long temporal scale as well as a fine resolution spatial scale, we quantified wood charcoal and charred endocarps in soil samples by layers of 10 cm taken for 100 pits located along transects of systematic sampling. Spatial projections were performed using statistics together with multivariate analyses. AMS radiocarbon dating allowed interpreting the temporal framework. Evidence of past human activities through either artifacts or charred botanical remains was observed in all pits, in particular with the ubiquitous presence of charcoal at each site. Main charcoal peaks were interpreted as fields (slash-and-burn agriculture) in the vicinity of ancient villages, the later marked by the presence of both potsherds and oil palm endocarps. The dichotomy of these kinds of activities may have impacted differentially the environment during the past. The set of 73 radiocarbon dates extending from 15,000 BP to the present time provided more dates in the late-Holocene showing a bimodal distribution which was interpreted as two phases of human expansion with an intermediate phase of population crash. The 2300–1300 BP phase is correlated with the migrations of supposed farming populations from northwestern Cameroon. Between 1300 and 670 BP, less material could be dated. Following that population collapse, the 670–20 BP phase corresponds to a new period of human expansion known as the Late Iron Age. The dates obtained support the established chronology reported for whole central Africa. This study underlines the necessity of fieldwork efforts and of the usefulness of archives sealed in soil records so as to bring new, extensive and precise evidence of human activities in the Congo Basin. [less ▲]

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See detailHistoire humaine des forêts tropicales du nord du Bassin du Congo durant les deux derniers millénaires
Morin-Rivat, Julie ULg; Biwolé, Achille; Bourland, Nils ULg et al

Scientific conference (2014, March 26)

Identifier les indices d’activités humaines anciennes et les mettre en relation avec la composition floristique actuelle grâce à une approche multidisciplinaire.

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See detailRapport final du projet FRFC n° 2.4577.10. Dynamique des populations d’arbres et d’herbacées héliophiles en relation avec les anciennes perturbations anthropiques et climatiques
Doucet, Jean-Louis ULg; Hardy, Olivier

Report (2014)

L’objectif principal de ce projet était d’étudier dans quelle mesure l’organisation de la biodiversité végétale des forêts d’Afrique centrale a été influencée par les activités anthropiques et les ... [more ▼]

L’objectif principal de ce projet était d’étudier dans quelle mesure l’organisation de la biodiversité végétale des forêts d’Afrique centrale a été influencée par les activités anthropiques et les changements climatiques qui se sont déroulés au cours des quelques derniers millénaires. A cette fin, cinq disciplines ont été utilisées : (1) l'archéologie afin de dater et de quantifier l’intensité de l’occupation humaine ; (2) l'anthracologie pour reconstituer la végétation présente lors du passage des feux ; (3) la dendrochronologie en vue d’établir des corrélations entre les événements passés et l'âge des arbres ; (4) l'écologie des communautés pour permettre de tester l’existence d’une corrélation entre l’abondance d’espèces héliophiles et les indices d’occupation humaine ; (5) la génétique des populations afin d'identifier des signatures génétiques d’anciens évènements de fragmentation et de changement démographique. [less ▲]

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See detailSpeciation slowing down in widespread and long-living tree taxa : insights from the tropical timber tree genus Milicia (Moraceae)
Daïnou, Kasso ULg; Mahy, Grégory ULg; Duminil, Jérôme et al

in Heredity (2014)

The long generation time and large effective size of widespread forest tree species can result in slow evolutionary rate and incomplete lineage sorting, complicating species delimitation. We addressed ... [more ▼]

The long generation time and large effective size of widespread forest tree species can result in slow evolutionary rate and incomplete lineage sorting, complicating species delimitation. We addressed this issue with the African timber tree genus Milicia that comprises two morphologically similar and often confounded species: M. excelsa, widespread from West to East Africa, and M. regia, endemic to West Africa. We combined information from nuclear microsatellites (nSSRs), nuclear and plastid DNA sequences, and morphological systematics to identify significant evolutionary units and infer their evolutionary and biogeographical history. We detected five geographically coherent genetic clusters using nSSRs and three levels of genetic differentiation. First, one West African cluster matched perfectly with the morphospecies M. regia that formed a monophyletic clade at both DNA sequences. Second, a West African M. excelsa cluster formed a monophyletic group at plastid DNA and was more related to M. regia than to Central African M. excelsa, but shared many haplotypes with the latter at nuclear DNA. Third, three Central African clusters appeared little differentiated and shared most of their haplotypes. Although gene tree paraphyly could suggest a single species in Milicia following the phylogenetic species concept, the existence of mutual haplotypic exclusivity and nonadmixed genetic clusters in the contact area of the two taxa indicate strong reproductive isolation and, thus, two species following the biological species concept. Molecular dating of the first divergence events showed that speciation in Milicia is ancient (Tertiary), indicating that long-living tree taxa exhibiting genetic speciation may remain similar morphologically. [less ▲]

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See detailPatterns of tree species composition across tropical African forests
Fayolle, Adeline ULg; Swaine, Michael D.; Bastin, Jean-François ULg et al

in Journal of Biogeography (2014), online

Aim : In this study we identified large-scale variation in tree species composition across tropical African forests and determined the underlying environmental and historical factors. Location : Tropical ... [more ▼]

Aim : In this study we identified large-scale variation in tree species composition across tropical African forests and determined the underlying environmental and historical factors. Location : Tropical forests from Senegal to Mozambique. Methods : Distribution data were gathered for 1175 tree species in 455 sample sites scattered across tropical Africa, including all types of tropical forests (wet, moist, dry, and lowland to moderate elevation montane forests). The value of elevation and 19 climatic variables extracted from the BIOCLIM data set were assigned to each sample site. We determined the variation in species composition using correspondence analysis and identified the environmental correlates. We defined floristic clusters according to species composition and identified the characteristic species using indicator analysis. Results : We identified a major floristic discontinuity located at the Albertine rift that separated the dry, moist and wet forests of West and Central Africa (the entire Guineo-Congolian Region) from the upland and coastal forests of East Africa. Except for the Albertine Rift, we found no evidence to support the other proposed floristic discontinuities (Dahomey Gap etc.). We detected two main environmental gradients across tropical African forests. The rainfall gradient was strongly correlated with the variation in tree species composition in West and Central Africa. The elevation/temperature gradient highlighted the major floristic differences within East Africa and between East Africa and the Guineo-Congolian Region, the latter being most probably due to the geological disruption and associated climatic history of the East African uplift. Main conclusions : We found floristic evidence for three main biogeographical regions across the tropical African forests, and described six floristic clusters with particular environmental conditions within these regions: Coastal and Upland for East Africa, Dry and Wet-Moist for West Africa, and Moist and Wet for Central Africa. [less ▲]

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See detailDe la paléoécologie à l'écologie actuelle : 2000 ans d'interaction homme-milieu dans le nord du Bassin du Congo
Morin-Rivat, Julie ULg; Bentaleb, Ilham; Biwole, Achille ULg et al

Poster (2013, November 06)

La forêt tropicale africaine a longtemps été considérée comme vierge du passage de l’homme. Cependant, plusieurs études récentes en paléoécologie et archéologie ont démontré la présence d’activités ... [more ▼]

La forêt tropicale africaine a longtemps été considérée comme vierge du passage de l’homme. Cependant, plusieurs études récentes en paléoécologie et archéologie ont démontré la présence d’activités humaines anciennes à partir d’indices paléoenvironnementaux (i.e. pollens de plantes anthropophiles) et d’artefacts (i.e. tessons de céramique). Ces études sont toutefois trop rares en raison de difficultés de terrain pour repérer et accéder aux sites archéologiques (couvert végétale dense, absence de pistes). De grandes zones à l’intérieur des terres demeurent donc inexplorées. Par ailleurs, peu d’études se sont penchées sur la question de l’impact de ces activités anthropiques passées sur la structure et la composition de la végétation actuelle. Grâce à une approche multidisciplinaire à la frontière entre sciences humaines et sciences de l’environnement (archéologie, pédoanthracologie : charbons de bois des sols, écologie forestière), notre objectif est d’identifier des indices d’activités humaines anciennes, lesquels sont été mis en relation avec les patrons actuels de végétation. Nos trois zones d’étude sont localisées en forêt tropicale humide de type guinéo-congolais et sont réparties dans le sud-ouest et sud-est du Cameroun et le nord de la République du Congo. Le long d’une vingtaine de transects de plusieurs kilomètres, nous avons appliqué un protocole systématique de récolte de matériel archéologique et archéobotanique dans des fosses situées sur des parcelles d’inventaire botanique. Ceci nous a permis de récolter plus d’un millier d’échantillons contenant des macrorestes végétaux carbonisés ainsi que des artefacts inédits pour la région (pierre taillée et polie, tessons de céramique, scories de métallurgie) et d’inventorier la végétation dans l’environnement immédiat des découvertes. L’analyse spatiale et temporelle (chronologie relative et par datation radiocarbone) des macrorestes a permis d’identifier des villages entourés de probables champs agricoles (agriculture itinérante sur brûlis). Les 68 datations radiocarbones et les types céramiques obtenus suivent une chronologie archéologique en deux phases : un âge du Fer ancien entre 2300 et 1300 BP et un âge du Fer récent se poursuivant jusqu’à la période subactuelle, entre 670 et 20 BP. Entre ces deux phases d’occupation, les traces d’activités anthropiques sont rares. La première phase d’activités serait à mettre en relation avec une fragmentation de la forêt dense à la suite d’un épisode climatique aride autour de 2500 BP, permettant ainsi aux populations de pénétrer la forêt. Un épisode plus humide à partir de 800 BP, avec un retour d’un couvert plus dense, aurait fait reculer les populations humaines. Leur rétablissement dans les forêts se serait produit conjointement à des conditions plus sèches. Ces trois phases rejoignent la chronologie générale établie à l’échelle de l’Afrique centrale. Les premiers taxons identifiés parmi les macrorestes végétaux carbonisés, graines et charbons de bois, démontrent l’utilisation ancienne du palmier à huile et d’arbres fruitiers sauvages. Les espèces ligneuses identifiées sont présentes dans le cortège floristique actuel. L’identification taxonomique des charbons de bois devrait nous permettre de reconstituer l’environnement végétal au cours des deux derniers millénaires. Les différences observées dans les couverts forestiers passé et actuel en termes de composition floristique ainsi que la structure des peuplements actuels sont de bons indicateurs d’impacts récents de l’homme sur son milieu. [less ▲]

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See detailImpacts of past Human disturbances on present-day tree species assembly in a tropical forest of South-East Cameroon
Vleminckx, Jason; Doucet, Jean-Louis ULg; Daïnou, Kasso ULg et al

Poster (2013, November 06)

Many evidence have been found for intensive past Human presence in the forests of Central Africa, notably widespread charcoal occurrence in the soil. Forest clearing for slash-and-burn agriculture may ... [more ▼]

Many evidence have been found for intensive past Human presence in the forests of Central Africa, notably widespread charcoal occurrence in the soil. Forest clearing for slash-and-burn agriculture may have favored the competitiveness of light-demanding species (LD) to the detriment of shade-bearer species (SB). Hypothesis: Positive correlation between abundance of charcoal in the soil (proxy for past Human clearing) and abundance of LD.Mostly “young” charcoals were thought to reflect past Human disturbances that would have shaped present-day species assembly. However, CAI 0-20cm and CAI 20-100cm were highly correlated with each other (r-Pearson = 0.55; P<0.001) and both displayed positive correlations with Non-Pioneer LD abundance (significant with a classic test) and negative correlations with SB abundance. Although this observation is coherent with our hypothesis, significance disappeared when correcting for spatial autocorrelation [4], even after removing small-diameter trees potentially too young to be linked with last Human disturbances (not shown). Correlation of CAI between the two soil layers => Humans found appropriate conditions for settlement in the same area at different periods? Absence of significant correlation in ❸ (i) Last Human disturbances are too old to detect any signal on present-day tree species assembly. (ii) Human impact is weak compared to other factors (soil properties, dispersal limitation,…) (iii) Local scale heterogeneity of LD abundance is weak compared to landscape scale. Parallel large scale gradients in the abundance of Non-Pioneer LD and charcoal abundance (proxy for past slash-and-burn activities) were observed, but a causal link cannot be established so far. [less ▲]

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See detailLe genre Guibourtia Benn: un modèle biologique idéal pour comprendre les mécanismes de spéciation
Tosso, Dji-ndé Félicien ULg; Daïnou, Kasso ULg; Hardy, Olivier et al

Poster (2013, November 06)

Les forêts denses tropicales humides se distinguent par leur grande diversité biologique qui leur confère un caractère complexe. Dans un tel contexte, comprendre le passé et l'histoire évolutive de la ... [more ▼]

Les forêts denses tropicales humides se distinguent par leur grande diversité biologique qui leur confère un caractère complexe. Dans un tel contexte, comprendre le passé et l'histoire évolutive de la dynamique de ces forêts, constitue un moyen efficace pour prédire leur dynamique future. De telles études qui traitent de la biologie évolutive (phylogénie et phylogéographie) sont rares en Afrique comparativement aux autres continents. Le présent travail ambitionne de contribuer, sur base d’un modèle biologique comportant plusieurs espèces sœurs, à la compréhension des mécanismes à l'origine de la diversité des écosystèmes forestiers tropicaux. Le modèle biologique choisi est le genre Guibourtia Benn daté de moins de 20.000 ans qui regroupe 13 espèces ligneuses africaines de grande importance socio-culturelle et économique. Ce modèle rassemble non seulement des espèces de formations végétales différentes (forêt et savane) mais aussi des espèces inféodées aux régions établies sur des sols variés (sableux, argilo-limoneux, calcaire, hydromorphe etc.). Spécifiquement, l’étude vise à (i) démêler les relations phylogénétiques au sein du genre Guibourtia sur la base de caractérisations physiologique et morphogénétique; (ii) inférer l'histoire évolutive au sein du genre Guibourtia grâce aux récents outils d'analyse phylogéographique et de datation moléculaire ; et (iii) examiner les possibilités de flux de gènes entre deux espèces morphologiquement semblables à savoir G. tessmannii (Harms) J. Léonard et G. pellegriniana J. Léonard à l’échelle du Gabon. Ce travail se distingue par son originalité du fait qu’il développe une approche qui combine la physiologie et la génétique. Les résultats contribueront à modéliser la distribution des différentes unités évolutives du genre Guibourtia avec un modèle dynamique de végétation (CARAIB) afin de conclure sur leur statut de conservation et déduire les stratégies de gestion durable appropriées. [less ▲]

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See detailAfzelia populations, a poorly known species complex of timber trees from African tropical forests
Donkpegan, Segbedji ULg; Hardy, Olivier; Daïnou, Kasso ULg et al

Scientific conference (2013, June 26)

The fate of African tropical forests is a major concern for conservation, while their biodiversity is still poorly known. The purpose of this poster is to provide an update of knowledge of the genus ... [more ▼]

The fate of African tropical forests is a major concern for conservation, while their biodiversity is still poorly known. The purpose of this poster is to provide an update of knowledge of the genus Afzelia, a complex of sister tree species exploited for their wood in central Africa. The distribution of Afzelia in Africa suggests various adaptations to ecological factors. In fact, most of Afzelia species occur in parapatry and are so similar that they are often not distinguished by logging companies and forests managers. We show that the genus remains understudied in Africa although some of its species are considered as endangered or vulnerable. Therefore, a revision of its taxonomy along with thorough investigations of ecological and genetic aspects of Afzelia populations, using molecular markers currently in development (nSSR, cpDNA and nDNA), should be relevant and of great interest for conservation and sustainable management purposes. We will describe the different and complementary morpho-genetic approaches that will be used to investigate the biogeographical history of Afzeliapopulation in concert with species boundary questions. [less ▲]

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See detailAnalyzing soil charcoals to assess the naturalness of tropical forest
Morin-Rivat, Julie ULg; Gorel, Anaïs-Pasiphaé; Daïnou, Kasso ULg et al

Conference (2013, June 26)

For conservation biology and sustainable management, the natural character of tropical forest is a crucial issue. Its assessment is usually based on ecological proxies such as forest composition and ... [more ▼]

For conservation biology and sustainable management, the natural character of tropical forest is a crucial issue. Its assessment is usually based on ecological proxies such as forest composition and structure. However the estimation made on this basis only considers short term processes at a local scale. In contrast the long term processes are appraised by palaeoecological proxies (such as pollen) at a regional scale. So as to assess the degree of naturalness of tropical ecosystems in a conservation perspective it is important to combine a long temporal scale as well as a fine resolution spatial scale. Such approaches using palaeoecological proxies have been recently tested in temperate Europe but little in tropical ecosystems. Nonetheless the long term preservation of the palaeoecological material and its broad presence in the environment are necessary conditions to fulfill. In this perspective soil charcoal appears to meet these requirements. In this paper we aimed at assessing the naturalness of tropical forest using soil charcoal from southeastern Cameroon. Fieldwork involving as well archaeology as botany was undertaken at 53 sites. We quantified charcoal in soil samples by layers of 10 cm taken from pits located in the center of plots of botanical inventory. Spatial projections were performed using statistics together with multivariate analyses. Radiocarbon dating allowed interpreting the temporal framework. Results showed the ubiquitous presence of charcoal at each site. Main charcoal peaks were interpreted as fields (slash-and-burn agriculture) in the vicinity of ancient villages. These practices shaped the forest over time which cannot be considered as natural anymore. This underlines the potential input of the use of palaeoecological material in conservation biology and sustainable management issues. Charcoal fragments are under taxonomical identification and may provide new insights on the long term history of forest composition. [less ▲]

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See detailImpacts of past Human disturbances on present day tree species assembly in the tropical forests of South-East Cameroon
Vleminckx, Jason; Doucet, Jean-Louis ULg; Daïnou, Kasso ULg et al

Poster (2013, June 25)

Non-random spatial distribution of trees is the result of both neutral and deterministic factors. Neutral models suggest that species within a community are equally competitive, with spatial structures ... [more ▼]

Non-random spatial distribution of trees is the result of both neutral and deterministic factors. Neutral models suggest that species within a community are equally competitive, with spatial structures mainly due to dispersal limitation. Deterministic (or non-neutral) models consider species assemblages as the result of what we name “induced spatial dependence”, where forcing (explanatory) variables shape diversity organization. However, deterministic models have often included habitat variables only, without considering human disturbance which we know enhances the competitive advantage of heliophytic (light-demanding) species and therefore the floristic composition of phytocenoses. Based on charcoal abundance in the soil (used as an indicator of anthropogenic perturbation), species abundance, and environmental data from a forest of south-east Cameroon, we applied modern variation partitioning methods to assess the relative impact of human disturbance on floristic patterns, controlling for purely spatial and habitat effects. Significant signals of human influence have been found so far, and a new collection of data should establish with a better precision the importance of the anthropogenic impact on tree species assemblages. [less ▲]

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See detailSpecies delimitation and diversification in the widespread tree genus Milicia (Moraceae)
Daïnou, Kasso ULg; Mahy, Grégory ULg; Duminil, Jérôme et al

Conference (2013, June)

The long generation time and large effective size of widespread forest tree species can result in slow evolutionary rate and incomplete lineage sorting, complicating species delimitation. We addressed ... [more ▼]

The long generation time and large effective size of widespread forest tree species can result in slow evolutionary rate and incomplete lineage sorting, complicating species delimitation. We addressed this issue with the African timber tree genus Milicia that comprises two morphologically similar and often confounded species: M. excelsa, widespread from West to East Africa, and M. regia, endemic to West Africa. We combined information from nuclear microsatellites (nSSRs), nuclear and plastid DNA sequences, and morphological systematics to identify significant evolutionary units and infer their evolutionary and biogeographical history. We detected five geographically coherent genetic clusters using nSSRs and three levels of genetic differentiation. First, one West African cluster matched perfectly with the morphospecies M. regia, which formed a monophyletic clade at both DNA sequences. Second, a West African M. excelsa cluster formed a monophyletic group at plastid DNA and was more related to M. regia than to Central African M. excelsa, but shared many haplotypes with the latter at nuclear DNA. Third, three Central African clusters appeared little differentiated and shared most of their haplotypes. Although gene tree paraphyly could suggest a single species in Milicia following the Phylogenetic Species Concept, the existence of mutual haplotypic exclusivity and non-admixed genetic clusters in the contact area of the two taxa indicate strong reproductive isolation, and thus, two species following the Biological Species Concept. Molecular dating of the first divergence events showed that speciation in Milicia is ancient (Tertiary), indicating that long-living tree taxa exhibiting genetic speciation may remain similar morphologically. [less ▲]

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See detailPhylogeography of african timber trees
Hardy, Olivier; Daïnou, Kasso ULg; Debout, Gabriel et al

Conference given outside the academic context (2012)

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See detailDevelopment and characterization of microsatellite loci in Pericopsis elata (Fabaceae) using a cost-efficient approach
Micheneau, Claire; Dauby, Gilles; Bourland, Nils ULg et al

in American Journal of Botany (2011)

Premise of the study : Microsatellite loci were developed in the endangered Pericopsis elata using a combination of low-cost procedures. Methods and Results : Microsatellite isolation was performed ... [more ▼]

Premise of the study : Microsatellite loci were developed in the endangered Pericopsis elata using a combination of low-cost procedures. Methods and Results : Microsatellite isolation was performed simultaneously on three distinct species through a newly available procedure that associates multiplex microsatellite enrichment and next-generation sequencing, allowing the rapid and low-cost development of microsatellite-enriched libraries through the use of a 1/32nd GS-FLX plate. Genotyping using M13-like label- ing in multiplexed reactions allowed additional cost savings. From 72 primers selected for initial screening, 21 positively amplified P. elata , and 11 showed polymorphism with two to 11 alleles per locus and a mean value of 5.4 alleles per locus. Conclusions : These microsatellite loci will be useful to further investigate the level of genetic variation within and between natural populations of P. elata in Africa. [less ▲]

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See detailPatterns of hybridization and hybrid survival in the invasive alien Fallopia complex (Polygonaceae)
Saad, Layla ULg; Tiébré, Marie-Solange; Hardy, Olivier et al

in Plant Ecology and Evolution (2011), 144(12-18),

Background -- Hybridization and polyploidization are considered important driving forces of invasive processes. In the invasive Fallopia spp. complex, hybridization between taxa of various ploidy levels ... [more ▼]

Background -- Hybridization and polyploidization are considered important driving forces of invasive processes. In the invasive Fallopia spp. complex, hybridization between taxa of various ploidy levels has been experimentally demonstrated. Extensive genetic variation has also been observed among hybrids in the field. However, what makes a certain hybridization event of evolutionary importance is still the subject of speculation considering the invasive potential of hybrid Fallopia. Aims -- The present study examined landscape scale patterns of interspecific hybridization within the alien invasive Fallopia complex, and tested whether cold winter might act as selective agent for hybrid survival. Methods -- Eighty seeds per clone were collected from four taxa (F. japonica, F. sachalinensis, F. aubertii, and F. xbohemica) and sown in greenhouse and outdoor conditions. Ploidy levels of the resulting seedlings were determined by flow cytometry at early stages of seedling growth and compared to those of mature clones present in the same landscapes. Key results -- The four studied taxa were involved in interspecific hybridization patterns. Seedlings resulting from hybridization had a large range of ploidy levels, including aneuploid and euploid progeny, and polyploid levels that were not observed in mature clones. Cold winter had a negative effect on germination success. However, a comparison of ploidy levels of seedlings that survived the cold winter with those grown under greenhouse conditions indicated that cold winter was not a significant selection agent for particular ploidy levels. Conclusions -- Our results stress the importance of interspecific hybridization and polyploidization events in generating invasive hybrids in the alien Fallopia spp complex. Cold winter represents a selection agent for the survival of early stages of progeny but does not explain the discrepancies in ploidy levels between produced seedlings and currently occurring mature clones. [less ▲]

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See detailCpDNA-based species identification and phylogeography: application to African tropical tree species
Duminil, Jérôme; Heuertz, Myriam; Doucet, Jean-Louis ULg et al

in Molecular Ecology (2010), 19(24), 5469-5483

Despite the importance of the African tropical rainforests as a hotspot of biodiversity, their history and the processes that have structured their biodiversity are understood poorly. With respect to past ... [more ▼]

Despite the importance of the African tropical rainforests as a hotspot of biodiversity, their history and the processes that have structured their biodiversity are understood poorly. With respect to past demographic processes, new insights can be gained through characterizing the distribution of genetic diversity. However, few studies of this type have been conducted in Central Africa, where the identification of species in the field can be difficult. We examine here the distribution of chloroplast DNA (cpDNA) diversity in Lower Guinea in two tree species that are difficult to distinguish, Erythrophleum ivorense and Erythrophleum suaveolens (Fabaceae). By using a blind-sampling approach and comparing molecular and morphological markers, we first identified retrospectively all sampled individuals and determined the limits of the distribution of each species. We then performed a phylogeographic study using the same genetic data set. The two species displayed essentially parapatric distributions that were correlated well with the rainfall gradient, which indicated different ecological requirements. In addition, a phylogeographic structure was found for E. suaveolens and, for both species, substantially higher levels of diversity and allelic endemism were observed in the south (Gabon) than in the north (Cameroon) of the Lower Guinea region. This finding indicated different histories of population demographics for the two species, which might reflect different responses to Quaternary climate changes. We suggest that a recent period of forest perturbation, which might have been caused by humans, favoured the spread of these two species and that their poor recruitment at present results from natural succession in their forest formations. [less ▲]

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See detailThe barriers to oceanic island radiation in bryophytes: insights from the phylogeography of the moss Grimmia montana
Vanderpoorten, Alain ULg; Devos, Nicolas ULg; Goffinet, Bernard et al

in Journal of Biogeography (2008), 35

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