ecological wood anatomy; life history traits; tropical Africa; Congo Basin; anatomical features; leaf phenology; shade tolerance
[en] In this study we aimed at identifying the anatomical characters expressing life history traits of woody species from the northern Congo Basin. We crosschecked three databases: the botanical inventories produced during the CoForChange project (857 spp.), the database of life history traits established by the CIRAD (France) and GxABT (Belgium) (464 spp.), and the anatomical database Inside Wood (761 spp. and genera for tropical Africa). A total of 155 shared species was obtained. We performed correspondence analyses between the anatomical characters and two main groups of traits: leaf phenology and light-requirement. Results showed: (i) that wood anatomy is involved in leaf phenology and light-requirement in a significant way (7.56% of the variance on axe1), (ii) that evergreenness was correlated to IAWA characters 14 to 18 (scalariform perforation plates, e.g. Olacaceae) and deciduousness to characters 118 to 122 (storied structures, e.g. Malvaceae and Meliaceae), (iii) that pioneer (P) and non-pioneer light-demanding (NPLD) species showed similar traits but were different from shade-tolerant (ST) species, (iv) that deciduous and evergreen species showed separate distributions, and (v) that wood anatomy validated the well documented strong correlation between evergreen species and ST species, with an inversion of the tendency for deciduous species correlated to P and NPLD species. We conclude that anatomical characters can be used as indicators of life history traits in species-rich biomes. Further investigations are needed to increase the input of wood anatomy in explaining the life history traits in African tropical species.