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04 May 2021
Article (Scientific journals)
Unveiling African rainforest composition and vulnerability to global change
Réjou-Méchain, Maxime; Mortier, Frédéric; Bastin, Jean-François  et al.
2021 • In Nature, p. 1-21
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Keywords :
Climate-change impacts; Community ecology; Forest ecology; Tropical ecology; Floristic composition of forest; Functional composition of forest; Soil types; Anthropogenic gradients; African rainforest
Abstract :
[en] Africa is forecasted to experience large and rapid climate change1 and population growth2 during the twenty-first century, which threatens the world’s second largest rainforest. Protecting and sustainably managing these African forests requires an increased understanding of their compositional heterogeneity, the environmental drivers of forest composition and their vulnerability to ongoing changes. Here, using a very large dataset of 6 million trees in more than 180,000 field plots, we jointly model the distribution in abundance of the most dominant tree taxa in central Africa, and produce continuous maps of the floristic and functional composition of central African forests. Our results show that the uncertainty in taxon-specific distributions averages out at the community level, and reveal highly deterministic assemblages. We uncover contrasting floristic and functional compositions across climates, soil types and anthropogenic gradients, with functional convergence among types of forest that are floristically dissimilar. Combining these spatial predictions with scenarios of climatic and anthropogenic global change suggests a high vulnerability of the northern and southern forest margins, the Atlantic forests and most forests in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where both climate and anthropogenic threats are expected to increase sharply by 2085. These results constitute key quantitative benchmarks for scientists and policymakers to shape transnational conservation and management strategies that aim to provide a sustainable future for central African forests.
Disciplines :
Environmental sciences & ecology
Phytobiology (plant sciences, forestry, mycology...)
Author, co-author :
Réjou-Méchain, Maxime
Mortier, Frédéric
Bastin, Jean-François  ;  Université de Liège - ULiège > Monitoring et gestion des données des systèmes agro-env.
Cornu, Guillaume
Barbier, Nicolas
Bayol, Nicolas
Bénédet, Fabrice
Bry, Xavier
Dauby, Gilles
Deblauwe, Vincent
Doucet, Jean-Louis ;  Université de Liège - ULiège > Département GxABT > Laboratoire de Foresterie des régions trop. et subtropicales
Doumenge, Charles
Fayolle, Adeline  ;  Université de Liège - ULiège > Département GxABT > Gestion des ressources forestières et des milieux naturels
Garcia, Claude
Kibambe Lubamba, Jean-Paul
Loumeto, Jean-Joël
Ngomanda, Alfred
Ploton, Pierre
Sonké, Bonaventure
Trottier, Catherine
Vimal, Ruppert
Yongo, Olga
Pélissier, Raphaël
Gourlet-Fleury, Sylvie
More authors (14 more) Less
Language :
English
Title :
Unveiling African rainforest composition and vulnerability to global change
Publication date :
21 April 2021
Journal title :
Nature
ISSN :
0028-0836
eISSN :
1476-4687
Publisher :
Nature Publishing Group, London, United Kingdom
Pages :
1-21
Peer reviewed :
Peer Reviewed verified by ORBi

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