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See detailIdentification des charbons de bois pour connaître l'histoire passée des forêts tropicales africaines
Morin-Rivat, Julie ULg; De Weerdt, Joëlle; Hubau, Wannes et al

Scientific conference (2014, March 26)

Nous présentons ici différents aspects de l’étude des charbons de bois à travers l’exemple de l’Afrique tropicale

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See detailWood charcoal analysis: a relatively new tool for palaeoecology in tropical Africa
Morin-Rivat, Julie ULg; Biwole, Achille ULg; Bourland, Nils ULg et al

Scientific conference (2014, February 14)

This is an introduction about wood charcoal properties, collection and taxonomical identification in the framework of palaeoecological studies in Central Africa through examples of possible applications.

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See detailFrom wood charcoals to trees: pitfalls and successes of the taxonomic identification in tropical contexts
Morin-Rivat, Julie ULg; De Weerdt, Joëlle; Hubau, Wannes et al

Poster (2014, February 07)

So as to document the past history of tropical forests, several palaeoenvironmental proxies have been used. For instance, charcoals from soil deposits provide a local signal of the evolution of the ... [more ▼]

So as to document the past history of tropical forests, several palaeoenvironmental proxies have been used. For instance, charcoals from soil deposits provide a local signal of the evolution of the vegetation together with snapshots of human interactions with the environment. As charcoal analyses are rare in tropical contexts, here we aim at presenting the different aspects of charcoal studies through their pitfalls and successes as well as the needs for further research. Charcoal analysis (anthracology) is a discipline initially from archaeobotany that consists in the analysis of pieces of charred wood primarily found in archaeological contexts but also in natural soil layers. Its goal is to identified the species that burnt during the past through the observation of the charred wood structure. Indeed carbonization, as the incomplete combustion of the ligneous material, preserves the wood structure. The identifications obtained through microscopic observations allow assessing past uses of wood and human impacts on the forest landscape. However, issues typically tropical exist: difficulties related to fieldwork accessibility, to sampling, to soil processing so as to collect the charcoals, difficulties related to the taxonomic identification because of the huge number of species and of the limited number of anatomical descriptions. New developments are nonetheless emerging for Central Africa with original anatomical descriptions, identification protocols and visual keys. [less ▲]

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See detailHow closely are Pericopsis elata (Fabaceae) patches linked to past human disturbances in South-Eastern Cameroon
Bourland, Nils ULg; Cerisier, François; Daïnou, Kasso ULg et al

Conference (2013, June 26)

Studies conducted in the Congo Basin forests concluded that soil parameters and large disturbances induced by human activities since 3000–2000 BP could be the main driver for the persistence of long lived ... [more ▼]

Studies conducted in the Congo Basin forests concluded that soil parameters and large disturbances induced by human activities since 3000–2000 BP could be the main driver for the persistence of long lived light-demanding tall tree species. Today most of the timber species belong to this group, among them Pericopsis elata (Fabaceae). Like many other light-demanding trees, this species suffers from important regeneration problems. While the conditions for its establishment must have been met in the past, they obviously have become unfavourable. Because of ongoing logging activities and a natural decline of its populations, this species is recorded in both the IUCN Red List and the CITES Appendix II listings. Our goal was to investigate the roles of both pedological and anthropogenic factors in the persistence of forest patches characterized by this clustered species. Soil surveys, botanical inventories and anthracological excavations were conducted in three different forest sites located in south-eastern Cameroon. P. elata patches (3.3-14.7 ha) were studied and compared to their close surroundings. No statistical differences were observed between the results of botanical inventories conducted inside and outside the patches (Morisita-Horn indices from 0.69-0.77). Soils only differed in Fe content, but otherwise no significant differences could be observed. Charcoal is widespread and abundant in study sites, mostly inside the patches. Charcoal radiocarbon dating (2,150-195 BP) was consistent with decoration techniques of archaeological materials that we discovered. The average age of P. elata individuals coincides with fire events that occurred in a region where fires rarely occur naturally. We present evidence of past anthropogenic disturbances (human settlement, slash-and-burn cultivation) in the Congolese mixed moist semi-evergreen forest in south-eastern Cameroon. We discuss the potential influence of our findings on the management of light-demanding tall trees populations in a context of logging activities. [less ▲]

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See detailExploring ancient charcoal archives in Central Africa
Hubau, Wannes; Morin-Rivat, Julie ULg; Van den Bulcke, Jan et al

Conference (2012, July)

Fossil pollen and charcoal fragments are preserved in lake sediments, in forest soils and in ancient human settlements, were they can be accompanied by artifacts. As such, vegetation history is remarkably ... [more ▼]

Fossil pollen and charcoal fragments are preserved in lake sediments, in forest soils and in ancient human settlements, were they can be accompanied by artifacts. As such, vegetation history is remarkably well archived and sometimes closely linked to cultural history. Direct evidence for Central African vegetation history has been mainly derived from pollen analysis, while the charcoal archive remains hardly explored. However, analysis of charred wood remains has proven worthwhile for palaeovegetation reconstructions in temperate and arid regions. One of the main challenges for charcoal identification in tropical regions is species diversity. Therefore we developed and present a transparent charcoal identification protocol within an umbrella database of species names and metadata, compiled from the on-line database of wood-anatomical descriptions (InsideWood), the database of the world’s largest reference collection of Central African wood specimens (RMCA, Tervuren, Belgium) and inventory and indicator species lists. We applied the protocol on radiocarbon dated charcoal collections sampled in the Mayumbe forest (Bas-Congo, DRCongo), in human settlements along the Aruwimi and Lomami rivers (Province Orientale, DRCongo), along the Sangha river (Sangha department, Republic of the Congo) and in Pallisco logging concessions (East Province of Cameroon). First charcoal identification results are promising and sometimes seem to be taxonomically more precise than pollen identification. However, next to opportunities, we also present some pitfalls when exploring ancient charcoal archives. [less ▲]

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See detailCurrent Pericopsis elata (Fabaceae) patches in southeastern Cameroon: remnants of a long and rich Human-rainforest relationship?
Bourland, Nils ULg; Cerisier, François; Livingstone Smith, Alexandre et al

Poster (2012, June 23)

Pericopsis elata is one of the most valuable African timber species. This IUCN Red Listed tree suffers from a lack of regeneration, thus its current presence provokes questioning. Our work aimed at ... [more ▼]

Pericopsis elata is one of the most valuable African timber species. This IUCN Red Listed tree suffers from a lack of regeneration, thus its current presence provokes questioning. Our work aimed at understanding its origins so as to help securing its future. This study, lead away from engineering works, was conducted in four different sites located within the natural distribution area of the species and taking into account the different growing conditions were the species occurs. Our observations are based on an analysis of charcoal elements and pottery fragments discovered in subsurface layers of soils as well as current botanical and pedological surveys. Evidence of past human activities we found led to the assumption that this part of the Congo Basin was much more inhabited than previously thought. Some of the results obtained for P. elata could apply for other long lived light demanding species growing in the same environment [less ▲]

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See detailForest anomalies and human occupation in Central Africa during the last two millennia
Livingstone Smith, Alexandre; Beeckman, Hans; Cerisier, François et al

Conference (2012, June 23)

Central African rainforests are no longer considered as pristine, but as the outcome of a long history of changes due mainly to climatic variation. For the later part of the Holocene it has been ... [more ▼]

Central African rainforests are no longer considered as pristine, but as the outcome of a long history of changes due mainly to climatic variation. For the later part of the Holocene it has been hypothesised that climate changes together with human activities triggered modifications in terms of distribution and botanical composition. While developing a research project to explore the mechanisms of forest change, new research avenues for the archaeology of rainforests became apparent. In this paper, we outline the results of this approach, implemented on a forest concession (Cameroon). We introduce our methodology based on the analysis of botanical inventories (focused on large trees of human linked species and light demanding species), coupled to systematic core boring and test pits. A sampling strategy for the collection of charcoal and its identification is developed and archaeological remains found in association are analyzed at the Royal Museum for Central Africa. [less ▲]

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See detailPerturbations récentes dans le Bassin du Congo : Contribution de l’anthracologie à une restitution paléoenvironnementale
Morin-Rivat, Julie ULg; Hubau, Wannes; Gillet, Jean-François et al

Poster (2012, May 22)

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See detailRecent disturbances in the Congo Basin : an anthracological contribution to vegetation reconstructions
Morin-Rivat, Julie ULg; Hubau, Wannes; Gillet, Jean-François ULg et al

Poster (2012, March 01)

In contrast to the well-known vegetation history of the northern hemisphere, few is known about past vegetation change in Central Africa. However, recent palaeoecological and biogeographical studies ... [more ▼]

In contrast to the well-known vegetation history of the northern hemisphere, few is known about past vegetation change in Central Africa. However, recent palaeoecological and biogeographical studies suggest that early human disturbances had a substantial influence on Central Africa vegetation patterns, particularly allowing the expansion of light-demanding species. This interesting hypothesis is the basis of one of the main research questions of the ERA-net BIODIVERSA CoForChange project: what was and is the relationship between (increasing) human activity and vegetation change? A recently developed protocol for the identification of ancient Central African charcoal fragments opened the door for vegetation reconstructions with a high spatial and taxonomical resolution. Therefore, we chose to study macro-charcoals from pedoanthracological profiles situated in N Congo and SE Camero0n. In total, 48 taxa were found in nine radiocarbon dated profiles. At the moment, three taxa have been identified down to species level. First, we found numerous fragments of Gilbertiodendron dewevrei under a current monodominant forest of G. dewevrei (40 cm depth, 1421-1327 cal. BP). This seems to confirm the presumption that monodominant forests of G. dewevrei, shade-bearer species, are relatively stable. Second, we evidenced the lack of Triplochiton scleroxylon charcoals under a T. scleroxylon stand, which could confirm the hypothesis of the recent nature of those stands. Finally, our results suggest that taxonomic diversity of charcoal findings in open canopy Marantaceae forests is greater than in dense forests. Pterocarpus soyauxii and Millettia drastica have been found under an open Marantaceae forest at 40 cm depth (1184-1055 cal. BP). The abundance of the light-demanding species P. soyauxii appears to be decreasing over time (levels 20 to 40 cm depth) to the benefit of giant herbs. Anthracology in Central Africa is on the rise and the first results of the CoForChange project are promising. More identifications will follow, resulting in a better understanding of the evolution of Central African forests. [less ▲]

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See detailCould current Pericopsis elata (Fabaceae) patches in southeastern Cameroon be reasonably linked to past anthropogenic activities ?
Bourland, Nils ULg; Cerisier, François ULg; Livingstone Smith, Alexandre et al

Poster (2012, March 01)

Pericopsis elata is one of the most valuable African timber species. This IUCN Red Listed tree suffers from a lack of regeneration, thus its current presence provokes questioning. Our work aimed at ... [more ▼]

Pericopsis elata is one of the most valuable African timber species. This IUCN Red Listed tree suffers from a lack of regeneration, thus its current presence provokes questioning. Our work aimed at understanding its origins so as to help securing its future. This study, lead away from engineering works, was conducted in four different sites located within the natural distribution area of the species and took into account the different growing conditions were the species occurs. Our observations were based on an analysis of charcoal elements and pottery fragments discovered in subsurface layers of soils as well as on current botanical and pedological surveys. Discovered evidence of past human activities led to the assumption that this part of the Congo Basin was much more inhabited than previously thought. Some of the results obtained for P. elata could apply for other long lived light demanding species growing in the same environment. [less ▲]

Detailed reference viewed: 61 (12 ULg)