Article (Scientific journals)
Geological Substrates Shape Tree Species and Trait Distributions in African Moist Forests
Fayolle, Adeline; Engelbrecht, Bettina; Freycon, Vincent et al.
2012In PLoS ONE, 7 (8), p. 1-10
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Keywords :
Environmental filtering; Forest inventory; Growth rate; Leaf phenology; Sandy soils; Shade tolerance; Wood density
Abstract :
[en] Background: Understanding the factors that shape the distribution of tropical tree species at large scales is a central issue in ecology, conservation and forest management. The aims of this study were to (i) assess the importance of environmental factors relative to historical factors for tree species distributions in the semi-evergreen forests of the northern Congo basin; and to (ii) identify potential mechanisms explaining distribution patterns through a trait-based approach. Methodology/Principal Findings: We analyzed the distribution patterns of 31 common tree species in an area of more than 700,000 km² spanning the borders of Cameroon, the Central African Republic, and the Republic of Congo using forest inventory data from 56,445 0.5-ha plots. Spatial variation of environmental (climate, topography and geology) and historical factors (human disturbance) were quantified from maps and satellite records. Four key functional traits (leaf phenology, shade tolerance, wood density, and maximum growth rate) were extracted from the literature. The geological substrate was of major importance for the distribution of the focal species, while climate and past human disturbances had a significant but lesser impact. Species distribution patterns were significantly related to functional traits. Species associated with sandy soils typical of sandstone and alluvium were characterized by slow growth rates, shade tolerance, evergreen leaves, and high wood density, traits allowing persistence on resource-poor soils. In contrast, fast-growing pioneer species rarely occurred on sandy soils, except for Lophira alata. Conclusions/Significance: The results indicate strong environmental filtering due to differential soil resource availability across geological substrates. Additionally, long-term human disturbances in resource-rich areas may have accentuated the observed patterns of species and trait distributions. Trait differences across geological substrates imply pronounced differences in population and ecosystem processes, and call for different conservation and management strategies.
Research Center/Unit :
Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le développement (CIRAD)
Disciplines :
Environmental sciences & ecology
Phytobiology (plant sciences, forestry, mycology...)
Author, co-author :
Fayolle, Adeline  ;  Université de Liège - ULiège > Forêts, Nature et Paysage > Gestion des ressources forestières et des milieux naturels
Engelbrecht, Bettina
Freycon, Vincent
Mortier, Frédéric
Swaine, Michael
Réjou-Méchain, Maxime
Doucet, Jean-Louis ;  Université de Liège - ULiège > Forêts, Nature et Paysage > Laboratoire de Foresterie des régions trop. et subtropicales
Fauvet, Nicolas
Cornu, Guillaume
Gourlet-Fleury, Sylvie
Language :
Title :
Geological Substrates Shape Tree Species and Trait Distributions in African Moist Forests
Alternative titles :
[en] Le substrat géologique façonne la distribution des espèces et des traits dans les forêts tropicales humides africaines
Publication date :
15 August 2012
Journal title :
Publisher :
Public Library of Science, San Franscisco, United States - California
Volume :
Issue :
Pages :
Peer reviewed :
Peer Reviewed verified by ORBi
Name of the research project :
Funders :
UE - Union Européenne [BE]
Commentary :
This study is part of the ErA Net BiodivERsA CoForChange project which involves the following companies: Alpicam, Bois et Placages et Lopola, Danzer, Congolaise Industriale des Bois, Industries Forestieres de Batalino, Likouala Timber, Mokabi SA. and Vicwood. The authors thank the timber companies Alpicam, BPL, Danzer, DLH, IFB, Likouala Timber, Rougier, SEFCA, SCAD, SCAF and Vicwood for authorizing access to the inventory data, and the field teams who conducted the inventories. The consulting firm Forest Resource Management (FRM), facilitated contacts and exchange with several logging companies, participated in data collection and data compiling, and provided their inventory data files. There are no patents, products in development or marketed products to declare. This does not alter the authors’ adherence to all the PLoS ONE policies on sharing data and materials, as detailed online in the guide for authors.
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