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See detailHow Tightly Linked Are Pericopsis elata (Fabaceae) Patches to Anthropogenic Disturbances in Southeastern Cameroon?
Bourland, Nils; Cerisier, François; Daïnou, Kasso ULiege et al

in Forests (2015), 6(2), 293-310

While most past studies have emphasized the relationships between specific forest stands and edaphic factors, recent observations in Central African moist forests suggested that an increase of slash-and ... [more ▼]

While most past studies have emphasized the relationships between specific forest stands and edaphic factors, recent observations in Central African moist forests suggested that an increase of slash-and-burn agriculture since 3000–2000 BP (Before Present) could be the main driver of the persistence of light-demanding tree species. In order to examine anthropogenic factors in the persistence of such populations, our study focused on Pericopsis elata, an endangered clustered timber species. We used a multidisciplinary approach comprised of botanical, anthracological and archaeobotanical investigations to compare P. elata patches with surrounding stands of mixed forest vegetation (“out-zones”). Charcoal samples were found in both zones, but were significantly more abundant in the soils of patches. Eleven groups of taxa were identified from the charcoals, most of them also present in the current vegetation. Potsherds were detected only inside P. elata patches and at different soil depths, suggesting a long human presence from at least 2150 to 195 BP, as revealed by our charcoal radiocarbon dating. We conclude that current P. elata patches most likely result from shifting cultivation that occurred ca. two centuries ago. The implications of our findings for the dynamics and management of light-demanding tree species are discussed. [less ▲]

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See detailHow closely are Pericopsis elata (Fabaceae) patches linked to past human disturbances in South-Eastern Cameroon
Bourland, Nils ULiege; Cerisier, François; Daïnou, Kasso ULiege 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 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 detailCurrent Pericopsis elata (Fabaceae) patches in southeastern Cameroon: remnants of a long and rich Human-rainforest relationship?
Bourland, Nils ULiege; 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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