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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 detailQuaternary rainforests of the Northern Congo Basin: contribution of charcoal analysis
Morin-Rivat, Julie ULg; Bremond, Laurent; Gillet, Jean-François ULg et al

Conference (2014, March 27)

In comparison with the wood charcoals uncovered in the soils of the temperate regions, charcoals from the tropical regions remain little studied yet, in particular those from the dense humid forests of ... [more ▼]

In comparison with the wood charcoals uncovered in the soils of the temperate regions, charcoals from the tropical regions remain little studied yet, in particular those from the dense humid forests of Central Africa. Here we aim at showing the interest of the analysis of soil charcoals so as to understand the current environments through some examples of taxonomical identifications conducted on charcoals sampled in several soil pits in Cameroon and in the Republic of the Congo. These charcoals were hand-split then observed under an incident light microscope. The anatomical features that are hold in the charcoals and described according to a standard method were compared to wood samples from the reference collection of the RMCA. Results demonstrated that the identified species are still present in the vegetal environment today and that only limited changes occurred over the past two millennia. Charcoal analysis can thus allow a better understanding of the past history of the forests in relationship with the ancient disturbances. The temporal and spatial framework of human settlements as well as the impact of the colonial period on the evolution of the forest is also discussed. [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 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 detailNew Evidence of Human Activities during the Holocene in the Lowland Forests of the Northern Congo Basin
Morin-Rivat, Julie ULg; Fayolle, Adeline ULg; Gillet, Jean-François ULg et al

in Radiocarbon (2014), 56(1), 209-220

In the last decade, the myth of the pristine tropical forest has been seriously challenged. In central Africa, there is a growing body of evidence for past human settlements along the Atlantic forests ... [more ▼]

In the last decade, the myth of the pristine tropical forest has been seriously challenged. In central Africa, there is a growing body of evidence for past human settlements along the Atlantic forests, but very little information is available about human activities further inland. In this study, we aimed at determining the temporal and spatial patterns of human activities in an archaeologically unexplored area of 110,000 km² located in the northern Congo Basin and currently covered by dense forest. Fieldwork involving archaeology as well as archaeobotany was undertaken in 36 sites located in southeastern Cameroon and in the northern Republic of Congo. Evidence of past human activities through either artifacts or charred botanical remains was observed in all excavated test pits across the study area. The set of 43 radiocarbon dates extending from 15,000 BP to the present time showed a bimodal distribution in the Late Holocene which was interpreted as two phases of human expansion with an intermediate phase of depopulation. 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. This is in agreement with the population collapse already reported for central Africa. Following this, the 670–20 BP phase corresponds to a new period of human expansion known as the Late Iron Age. These results bring new and extensive evidence of human activities in the northern Congo Basin and support the established chronology for human history in central Africa. [less ▲]

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See detailImprove the characterization of tropical forests to improve management: policy brief
Gourlet-Fleury, Sylvie; Aleman, Julie; Bayol, Nicolas et al

Report (2014)

CoForChange has shown that management plans based on timber stock recovery are not enough to ensure the sustainability of these production forests. The variability of forest characteristics and their ... [more ▼]

CoForChange has shown that management plans based on timber stock recovery are not enough to ensure the sustainability of these production forests. The variability of forest characteristics and their different responses to disturbance should be considered in management decisions. [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 detailLes plantations forestières en Afrique centrale : des sylvicultures nouvelles pour répondre aux nouveaux besoins des sociétés
Marien, Jean-Noël; Gourlet-Fleury, Sylvie; Peltier, Régis et al

in de Wasseige, Carlos; Flynn, J.; Louppe, Dominique (Eds.) et al Les forêts du Bassin du Congo - Etat des forêts 2013 (2014)

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See detailEnrichissement des pistes de débardage en forêts clairsemées à Marantacées
Doucet, Jean-Louis ULg; Gillet, Jean-François ULg

in de Wasseige, Carlos; Flynn, J.; Louppe, Dominique (Eds.) et al Les forêts du Bassin du Congo - Etat des forêts 2013 (2014)

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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 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 detailLes forêts à Marantaceae au sein de la mosaïque forestière du Nord de la République du Congo : origines et modalités de gestion
Gillet, Jean-François ULg

Doctoral thesis (2013)

The Marantaceae forests are conspicuous by an unusual physiognomy with a giant herbaceous continuous stratum in association with a scattered tree component regenerating with difficulty. This vegetation ... [more ▼]

The Marantaceae forests are conspicuous by an unusual physiognomy with a giant herbaceous continuous stratum in association with a scattered tree component regenerating with difficulty. This vegetation, arranged as a heterogeneous patchwork within the lowland semi-deciduous forests, is widely extended in the Northern Republic of Congo. The thesis aims to define and describe the vegetation types of this forest patchwork in order to identify the key factors that have shaped it and to recommend an appropriate forestry. To achieve this, the study was conducted in the CIB-OLAM logging concession (Sangha and Likwala departments). Two types of monodominant G. dewevrei forests and three hydromorphic vegetation types have been described trough on ordination multivariate analysis of the woody stand in relation with the hydrological conditions. In addition, a multi-strata classification of mixed terra firma forests has individualized five vegetation types that are defined and characterized. These are: (1.1) open vegetation types with Marantaceae and Aframomum cf. subsericeum, (1.2) sparse Marantaceae forests with Megaphrynium macrostachyum and (1.3) with Haumania liebrechtsiana, (1.4) dense forests with Marantaceae and (2) moist semi-deciduous dense forests (3 forms: (2.1) with Sarcophrynium schweinfurthianum, (2.2) with Haumania danckelmaniana and (2.3) with Triplochiton scleroxylon). They are characterized by their specific richness, floristic composition and/or structural parameters. Thanks to an archaeo-pedological study coupled with 14C dating, we established that the Marantaceae forests suffered the strongest past disturbances. The perturbations were mostly caused by humans and predominated around 1,550 yrs BP. They would be related to an expansion phase of the oil palm Elaeis guineensis and its exploitation by humans. The simultaneous degradation of the forest cover, combined with poor and wet soils, has facilitated the expanding of giant herbs, gradually inhibiting the tree regeneration. The dense forests on the contrary, whose the dominant species are light-demanding and wind-dispersed trees (eg. T. scleroxylon) would have a more recent origin. Indeed, they date back about 7 to 2 centuries and are related to shifting cultivation on richer and well-drained soils. The logging within the open canopy Marantaceae vegetation types results in a recovery of the forest dynamic on skid trails. Thanks to the destruction of the herbaceous understorey by logging equipment. On these trails, an assisted regeneration by selection and freeing of seedlings and an additional planting turns out to be an effective technique for woody species regeneration. The results are especially encouraging for the following species: Canarium schweinfurthii, Terminalia superba, Ricinodendron heudelotii and Nauclea diderrichii whose average height growth is respectively 154, 130, 125 and 124 cm, one year after the silvicultural treatment. Given the evolutionary dynamics of these open canopy Marantaceae vegetation types, systematic reforestation with timber species on skid trails seems to be the most appropriate silvicultural technique to ensure sustainable exploitation. [less ▲]

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See detailAbove-ground biomass and structure of 260 african tropical forests
Lewis, Simon L.; Sonké, Bonaventure; Sunderland, Terry et al

in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B (2013), 368

We report above-ground biomass (AGB), basal area, stemdensity and wood mass density estimates from 260 sample plots (mean size: 1.2 ha) in intact closed-canopy tropical forests across 12 African countries ... [more ▼]

We report above-ground biomass (AGB), basal area, stemdensity and wood mass density estimates from 260 sample plots (mean size: 1.2 ha) in intact closed-canopy tropical forests across 12 African countries. Mean AGB is 395.7 Mg dry mass ha21 (95% CI: 14.3), substantially higher than Amazonian values, with the Congo Basin and contiguous forest region attaining AGB values (429 Mg ha21) similar to those of Bornean forests, and significantly greater than East or West African forests. AGB therefore appears generally higher in palaeo- comparedwithneotropical forests.However, mean stem density is low(426+11 stems ha21 greater than or equal to 100 mm diameter) compared with both Amazonian and Bornean forests (cf. approx. 600) and is the signature structural feature of African tropical forests. While spatial autocorrelation complicates analyses, AGB shows a positive relationship with rainfall in the driest nine months of the year, and an opposite association with the wettest three months of the year; a negative relationship with temperature; positive relationship with clay-rich soils; and negative relationshipswith C :Nratio (suggesting a positive soil phosphorus–AGB relationship), and soil fertility computed as the sum of base cations. The results indicate that AGB is mediated by both climate and soils, and suggest that the AGB of African closed-canopy tropical forests may be particularly sensitive to future precipitation and temperature changes. [less ▲]

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See detailClimatic and cultural changes in the west Congo Basin forests over the past 5000 years
Oslisly, Richard; White, Lee; Bentaleb, Ilham et al

in Philosophical Transactions : Biological Sciences (2013), 368(1625), 1-11

Central Africa includes the world's second largest rainforest block. The ecology of the region remains poorly understood, as does its vegetation and archaeological history. However, over the past 20 years ... [more ▼]

Central Africa includes the world's second largest rainforest block. The ecology of the region remains poorly understood, as does its vegetation and archaeological history. However, over the past 20 years, multidisciplinary scientific programmes have enhanced knowledge of old human presence and palaeoenvironments in the forestry block of Central Africa. This first regional synthesis documents significant cultural changes over the past five millennia and describes how they are linked to climate. It is now well documented that climatic conditions in the African tropics underwent significant changes throughout this period and here we demonstrate that corresponding shifts in human demography have had a strong influence on the forests. The most influential event was the decline of the strong African monsoon in the Late Holocene, resulting in serious disturbance of the forest block around 3500 BP. During the same period, populations from the north settled in the forest zone; they mastered new technologies such as pottery and fabrication of polished stone tools, and seem to have practised agriculture. The opening up of forests from 2500 BP favoured the arrival of metallurgist populations that impacted the forest. During this long period (2500–1400 BP), a remarkable increase of archaeological sites is an indication of a demographic explosion of metallurgist populations. Paradoxically, we have found evidence of pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum) cultivation in the forest around 2200 BP, implying a more arid context. While Early Iron Age sites (prior to 1400 BP) and recent pre-colonial sites (two to eight centuries BP) are abundant, the period between 1600 and 1000 BP is characterized by a sharp decrease in human settlements, with a population crash between 1300 and 1000 BP over a large part of Central Africa. It is only in the eleventh century that new populations of metallurgists settled into the forest block. In this paper, we analyse the spatial and temporal distribution of 328 archaeological sites that have been reliably radiocarbon dated. The results allow us to piece together changes in the relationships between human populations and the environments in which they lived. On this basis, we discuss interactions between humans, climate and vegetation during the past five millennia and the implications of the absence of people from the landscape over three centuries. We go on to discuss modern vegetation patterns and African forest conservation in the light of these events. [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 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 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 detailLes équations allométriques pan-tropicales plurispécifiques sont-elles valables en Afrique centrale ?
Fayolle, Adeline ULg; Doucet, Jean-Louis ULg; Gillet, Jean-François ULg et al

in Picard, Nicolas; Henry, Mathieu (Eds.) Compte-rendu de l'Atelier scientifique régional sur les équations allométriques en Afrique Centrale : PREREDD, Yaoundé 2-5 avril 2013 (2013, April)

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See detailLes forêts vierges du Bassin du Congo - mythe ou réalité ?
Morin-Rivat, Julie ULg; Bourland, Nils ULg; Gillet, Jean-François ULg et al

Scientific conference (2013, March 21)

Les forêts du bassin du Congo ont longtemps été considérées comme des massifs historiquement épargnés par l'action de l'homme. Des résultats plus ou moins récents de recherches scientifiques remettent en ... [more ▼]

Les forêts du bassin du Congo ont longtemps été considérées comme des massifs historiquement épargnés par l'action de l'homme. Des résultats plus ou moins récents de recherches scientifiques remettent en question cette vision des forêt denses humides africaines. [less ▲]

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See detailTree allometry in Central Africa: Testing the validity of pantropical multi-species allometric equations for estimating biomass and carbon stocks
Fayolle, Adeline ULg; Doucet, Jean-Louis ULg; Gillet, Jean-François ULg et al

in Forest Ecology & Management (2013), (305), 29-37

There is a lot of uncertainty in the amount and spatial variations of above-ground biomass in Africa, partly because very few allometric equations are available. The aim of this study was to assess the ... [more ▼]

There is a lot of uncertainty in the amount and spatial variations of above-ground biomass in Africa, partly because very few allometric equations are available. The aim of this study was to assess the validity of using pan-tropical multispecies allometric equations developed by Chave et al. (2005) for estimating the above-ground biomass of trees in Central Africa and/or to develop site-specific equations. The study was conducted in lowland tropical forests of South-eastern Cameroon, at the edge between evergreen and semi-evergreen forests. Data of above-ground woody biomass were obtained from destructive sampling of 138 trees belonging to 47 taxa across a huge range of diameter (5.30–192.50 cm) and wood specific gravity (0.284–1.152 g cm 3). A set of local site-specific multi- and single-species models relating above-ground biomass to tree diameter and wood specific gravity were fitted to the data. The best model was selected using information criterion. Both tree diameter and wood specific gravity were important predictor to consider for the estimation of above-ground biomass at tree scale. Single-species models were not necessarily better than multi-species models including wood specific gravity as a predictor. The best local multi-species model had the same structure and parameters as the pan-tropical equation developed by Chave et al. (2005) for moist forests. The estimates from the pan-tropical multi-species equation were nearly as good as those of the local multi-species equation. Using wood specific gravity from the global data base only slightly increased the estimation errors, because for the study taxa wood specific gravity was highly correlated to wood specific gravity from the global data base. In this study, we showed that the pantropical multi-species allometric equation developped for moist forests can be used to produce accurate estimates of biomass and carbon stocks from diameter measurement in forest inventory and wood specific gravity from global data base at species level. These findings are especially timely given the urgent need to quantify biomass and carbon stocks in the tropics, and given the spatial extent of moist forests in Central Africa. [less ▲]

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