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Distribution of tree species along a gallery forest–savanna gradient: patterns, overlaps and ecological thresholds

  • Akomian Fortuné Azihou (a1), Romain Glèlè Kakaï (a1), Ronald Bellefontaine (a2) and Brice Sinsin (a1)
Abstract:
Abstract:

Savannas intermingled with gallery forests are dynamic habitats typical in Africa. This study aims to determine if differences in species traits lead to non-overlapping distribution of gallery-forest and savanna species and abrupt transition between gallery forest and savanna. Tree species densities were measured in 375 plots of 1500 m2 covering a total sample area of 56.25 ha along forty 3-km transects located at right angles to a riverbed with gallery forest into surrounding savanna. Location, vegetation type, soil physical properties, erosion and fire occurrence were recorded as site factors. Data analysis included the quantification of co-occurrence patterns, threshold indicator taxa analysis and fuzzy set ordination. The gallery forest–savanna gradient predicted floristic composition of plots with a correlation of 0.595 but its accuracy was locally modified by the occurrence of fire and the physical properties of soil that covered more than 30% of the range of residuals. The distribution of gallery-forest and savanna tree species did not overlap. Along the gallery forest–savanna gradient, savanna species gradually increased in density while gallery-forest species showed a community threshold at 120 m from the river beyond the width of gallery forest. The forest species driving this trend should play an important role in the dynamics of gallery forest–savanna boundaries.

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Corresponding author
1Corresponding author. Email: fazihou@gmail.com
References
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