References of "Hardy, Olivier J"
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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 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 detailContributing to wood anatomical databases to improve species identification, phylogeny and functional trait research in Central Africa
Morin, Julie ULg; Fayolle, Adeline ULg; De Ridder, Maaike et al

Poster (2015, May 26)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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See 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 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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See detailLarge-scale pattern of genetic differentiation within African rainforest trees: insights on the roles of ecological gradients and past climate changes on the evolution of Erythrophleum spp (Fabaceae)
Duminil, Jérôme; Brown, Richard P.; Ewédjè, Eben-Ezer BK. et al

in BMC Evolutionary Biology (2013), 13

Background: The evolutionary events that have shaped biodiversity patterns in the African rainforests are still poorly documented. Past forest fragmentation and ecological gradients have been advocated as ... [more ▼]

Background: The evolutionary events that have shaped biodiversity patterns in the African rainforests are still poorly documented. Past forest fragmentation and ecological gradients have been advocated as important drivers of genetic differentiation but their respective roles remain unclear. Using nuclear microsatellites (nSSRs) and chloroplast non-coding sequences (pDNA), we characterised the spatial genetic structure of Erythrophleum (Fabaceae) forest trees in West and Central Africa (Guinea Region, GR). This widespread genus displays a wide ecological amplitude and taxonomists recognize two forest tree species, E. ivorense and E. suaveolens, which are difficult to distinguish in the field and often confused. Results: Bayesian-clustering applied on nSSRs of a blind sample of 648 specimens identified three major gene pools showing no or very limited introgression. They present parapatric distributions correlated to rainfall gradients and forest types. One gene pool is restricted to coastal evergreen forests and corresponds to E. ivorense; a second one is found in gallery forests from the dry forest zone of West Africa and North-West Cameroon and corresponds to West-African E. suaveolens; the third gene pool occurs in semi-evergreen forests and corresponds to Central African E. suaveolens. These gene pools have mostly unique pDNA haplotypes but they do not form reciprocally monophyletic clades. Nevertheless, pDNA molecular dating indicates that the divergence between E. ivorense and Central African E. suaveolens predates the Pleistocene. Further Bayesian-clustering applied within each major gene pool identified diffuse genetic discontinuities (minor gene pools displaying substantial introgression) at a latitude between 0 and 2°N in Central Africa for both species, and at a longitude between 5° and 8°E for E. ivorense. Moreover, we detected evidence of past population declines which are consistent with historical habitat fragmentation induced by Pleistocene climate changes. Conclusions: Overall, deep genetic differentiation (major gene pools) follows ecological gradients that may be at the origin of speciation, while diffuse differentiation (minor gene pools) are tentatively interpreted as the signature of past forest fragmentation induced by past climate changes. [less ▲]

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See detailPhenological patterns in a natural population of a tropical timber tree species, Milicia excelsa (Moraceae): evidence of Isolation By Time and its interaction with feeding strategies of dispersers
Daïnou, Kasso ULg; Laurenty, Eric; Mahy, Grégory ULg et al

in American Journal of Botany (2012), 99(9), 1-11

Population genetic structuring over limited timescales is commonly viewed as a consequence of spatial constraints. Indirect approaches have recently revealed existence of reproductive isolation due to ... [more ▼]

Population genetic structuring over limited timescales is commonly viewed as a consequence of spatial constraints. Indirect approaches have recently revealed existence of reproductive isolation due to flowering time (the so-called isolation by time, IBT). Since phenological processes can be subject to selection, the persistence of flowering asynchrony may be due to opposing selective pressures during mating, dispersal and regeneration phases. Our study aimed to investigate phenology, fruit-handling by animals and their interaction, in a timber tree species, Milicia excelsa. We analyzed phenological data collected over a 6-year period on 69 genotyped trees in a Cameroonian natural rainforest complemented by data from germination trials and field observations of dispersers. Initiation of flowering correlated with variation in temperature and relative humidity, but was also affected by genetic factors: pairwise differences in flowering time between nearby individuals correlated with kinship coefficient, and earliness of flowering remained stable over time. A decrease in mean seed production per fruit with increasing flowering time suggests selection against late bloomers. However, germination rate was not affected by seed collection date, and the main seed disperser, the bat Eidolon helvum, seemed to increase in abundance at the end of the reproductive season, and preferred trees in open habitats where early and late bloomers are expected. The pairwise approach performs well to detecting IBT. The persistence of different mating pools in such a case may result from a trade-off between selective forces during the mating and seed dispersal processes. [less ▲]

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See detailPredicting alpha diversity of African rain forests: models based on climate and satellite-derived data do not perform better than a purely spatial model
Parmentier, Ingrid; Harrigan, Ryan J.; Buermann, Wolfgang et al

in Journal of Biogeography (2011), 38(6), 1164-1176

Aim Our aim was to evaluate the extent to which we can predict and map tree alpha diversity across broad spatial scales either by using climate and remote sensing data or by exploiting spatial ... [more ▼]

Aim Our aim was to evaluate the extent to which we can predict and map tree alpha diversity across broad spatial scales either by using climate and remote sensing data or by exploiting spatial autocorrelation patterns. Location Tropical rain forest, West Africa and Atlantic Central Africa. Methods Alpha diversity estimates were compiled for trees with diameter at breast height ‡ 10 cm in 573 inventory plots. Linear regression (ordinary least squares, OLS) and random forest (RF) statistical techniques were used to project alpha diversity estimates at unsampled locations using climate data and remote sensing data [Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), Quick Scatterometer (QSCAT), tree cover, elevation]. The prediction reliabilities of OLS and RF models were evaluated using a novel approach and compared to that of a kriging model based on geographic location alone. Results The predictive power of the kriging model was comparable to that of OLS and RF models based on climatic and remote sensing data. The three models provided congruent predictions of alpha diversity in well-sampled areas but not in poorly inventoried locations. The reliability of the predictions of all three models declined markedly with distance from points with inventory data, becoming very low at distances > 50 km. According to inventory data, Atlantic Central African forests display a higher mean alpha diversity than do West African forests. Main conclusions The lower tree alpha diversity in West Africa than in Atlantic Central Africa may reflect a richer regional species pool in the latter. Our results emphasize and illustrate the need to test model predictions in a spatially explicit manner. Good OLS or RF model predictions from inventory data at short distance largely result from the strong spatial autocorrelation displayed by both the alpha diversity and the predictive variables rather than necessarily from causal relationships. Our results suggest that alpha diversity is driven by history rather than by the contemporary environment. Given the low predictive power of models, we call for a major effort to broaden the geographical extent and intensity of forest assessments to expand our knowledge of African rain forest diversity. [less ▲]

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See detailSpatial aggregation of tropical trees at multiple spatial scales
Réjou-Méchain, Maxime; Flores, Olivier; Bourland, Nils ULg et al

in Journal of Ecology (2011), 99

1. In tropical forests, species distribution patterns may be strongly context-dependent owing to local stochasticity of recruitment and⁄ or to the specific history and environment of each site. Recent ... [more ▼]

1. In tropical forests, species distribution patterns may be strongly context-dependent owing to local stochasticity of recruitment and⁄ or to the specific history and environment of each site. Recent studies have reported, however, that the degree of spatial aggregation of tropical tree species is partly determined by some species traits irrespectively of site conditions, at least at a very local scale (<200 m). 2. Here, we used standardized large-scale forest inventories of five Central African tropical forests (9670 0.5-ha plots spread over 5550 km2) to quantify the spatial aggregation of 106 tropical tree species at larger spatial scales. For this purpose, we developed a new statistic to quantify the respective contributions of different spatial scales to the aggregation patterns, and we tested whether patterns were consistent across sites. We finally asked whether species characteristics related to dispersal ability, to response to disturbances and to biogeographical range could significantly explain aggregation patterns. 3. Although aggregation patterns varied substantially among sites within each species, they displayed inter-site consistencies (21–24%of the total variance explained by species identity) at the local scale (0.2–1 km) and at the mesoscale (1–10 km) but not at the landscape scale (>10 km). At the two former scales, upper taxonomical levels (family and⁄or order) significantly explained variation in the degree of species aggregation, while at the landscape scale, aggregation was entirely contingent on the site considered. Few species characteristics, except dispersal syndromes and wood density, were able to significantly explain aggregation patterns. 4. Synthesis. One of our most striking results is the high context dependence of species aggregation patterns, whatever the spatial scale considered. However, we showed that species distribution patterns can be predicted, to an extent, at spatial scales much larger than previously investigated in this context. Such patterns may be explained by traits displaying phylogenetic conservatism [less ▲]

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See detailFeeding ecology and phylogenetic structure of a complex neotropical termite assemblage, revealed by nitrogen stable isotope ratios
Bourguignon, Thomas; Sobotnik, Jan; Lepoint, Gilles ULg et al

in Ecological Entomology (2011), 36(2), 261-269

2. Nitrogen stable isotopes (hereafter delta 15N) were used to place termites from French Guiana rainforests along a wood-soil decomposition gradient, to test (i) whether feeding group assignation based ... [more ▼]

2. Nitrogen stable isotopes (hereafter delta 15N) were used to place termites from French Guiana rainforests along a wood-soil decomposition gradient, to test (i) whether feeding group assignation based on morphological characters was accurate and actually represented diet specialisation thresholds, and (ii) to what extent the dietary specialization of species is explained by phylogeny (phylogenetic autocorrelation). 3. delta 15N values vary over a range of 13 parts per thousand, suggesting that diet diversification contributes to the high species diversity in French Guiana. delta 15N values span a similar interval in all Termitidae subfamilies. Ranges of different subfamilies broadly overlap, although each of them diversified preferentially on one side of the wood-soil decomposition gradient. Congeneric species share similar feeding habits, whereas distant species tend to feed on distinct substrates. 4. Feeding groups did not completely match stable isotope data: there was no discontinuity between Groups III and IV, and no correlation between anatomical criteria used to distinguish these groups and delta 15N values. Nor was there any consistent difference in delta 15N values between wood feeders of the families Rhinotermitidae (Group I) and Termitidae (Group II). We also suggest that species feeding outside the wood-soil gradient should be distinguished for their peculiar feeding requirements. [less ▲]

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See detailForest refugia revisited: nSSRs and cpDNA sequences support historical isolation in a wide-spread African tree with high colonization capacity, Milicia excelsa (Moraceae)
Daïnou, Kasso ULg; Bizoux, Jean-Philippe ULg; Doucet, Jean-Louis ULg et al

in Molecular Ecology (2010), 19

The impact of the Pleistocene climate oscillations on the structure of biodiversity in tropical regions remains poorly understood. In this study, the forest refuge theory is examined at the molecular ... [more ▼]

The impact of the Pleistocene climate oscillations on the structure of biodiversity in tropical regions remains poorly understood. In this study, the forest refuge theory is examined at the molecular level in Milicia excelsa, a dioecious tree with a continuous range throughout tropical Africa. Eight nuclear microsatellites (nuSSRs) and two sequences and one microsatellite from chloroplast DNA (cpDNA) showed a deep divide between samples from Benin and those from Lower Guinea. This suggests both that these populations were isolated in separate geographical regions, probably for several glacial cycles of the Pleistocene, and a poor mixture of gene pools despite M. excelsa’s wind-pollination syndrome. The divide can also be related to seed dispersal patterns, which should be largely determined by the migration behaviour of M. excelsa's main seed disperser, the frugivorous bat Eidolon helvum. Within Lower Guinea, a north-south divide, observed with both markers despite weak genetic structure (nuSSRs: FST=0.035, cpDNA: GST=0.506), suggested the existence of separate Pleistocene refugia in Cameroon and the Gabon/Congo region. We inferred a pollen-to-seed dispersal distance ratio of 1.76, consistent with wide-ranging gene dispersal by both wind and bats. Simulations in an Approximate Bayesian Computation framework suggested low nuSSR and cpDNA mutation rates but imprecise estimates of other demographic parameters, probably due to a substantial gene flow between the Lower Guinean gene pools. The decline of genetic diversity detected in some Gabonese populations could be a consequence of the relatively recent establishment of a closed canopy forest which may negatively affect M. excelsa's reproductive system. [less ▲]

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See detailCan Pleistocene refuge theory explain within-species patterns of genetic diversity in African lowland rainforest trees?
Heuertz, Myriam; Savolainen, Vincent; Budde, Katharina et al

Poster (2010)

Pleistocene refuge theory holds that regions which nowadays harbour high numbers of endemic species correspond to forest refuges, where rainforest persisted through periods of adverse climatic conditions ... [more ▼]

Pleistocene refuge theory holds that regions which nowadays harbour high numbers of endemic species correspond to forest refuges, where rainforest persisted through periods of adverse climatic conditions. In order to test this theory, we surveyed geographical patterns of genetic diversity based on chloroplast DNA sequences in 15 rainforest tree species from 12 plant families in Atlantic Equatorial Africa. We found frequent geographic structure in the data sets, but no consistent pattern of genetic structure due to refugia. Species with gravity-dispersed oily seeds display low polymorphism whilst those with divergent lineages or ancient species display high polymorphism. Phylogeographical signals often correspond to taxa with divergent lineages. [less ▲]

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