Floristic composition and turnover analysis in Dahomey Gap and the surrounding (...)

Un article qui fait suite, quelques années plus tard, à une collaboration avec l'université de Lomé. La biodiversité végétale des reliques forestières le long des cours d'eau est représentative de la diversité végétale régionale. Ces milieux constituent des refuges importants pour préserver cette diversité de 868 espèces.

The origin of Dahomey Gap (DG) flora is one of the central biogeographical questions in sub-Saharan, which has been addressed in several studies. However, floristic evidence based on representative samples from the DG seems to be lacking in the scientific debate. The present study was conducted to fill this gap. Specifically, we assessed Togolese mountain riparian forests as minor forest refugia, examined their contribution to larger sub-Saharan forest refugia, and discussed the significance of these findings for biogeography and biodiversity conservation. Southwest Togo, West Africa, and sub-Saharan Upper Guinea Region Floristic data were collected in riparian forests through an intensive botanical inventory (n = 198; 50 × 10 m2). A comparative analysis was performed based on the floristic evidence related to forest refuges. The results showed significantly high species richness (868 species) and a high gamma and beta diversity associated with spatial turnover patterns. They also showed a high affinity between the study forests and large sub-Saharan forest refugia. Riparian forests share about 60% of their current species richness with large sub-Saharan forest refugia and contained refuge bio-indicator species. The floristic evidence, consistent with those of other studies, suggests that Togolese mountains would have very ancient origins and have experienced paleoclimatic events. The studied riparian would have served as refuges during recurrent climatic episodes. Our results support the minimal forest fragmentation hypothesis (network of refugia along rivers). However, they seem to be incompatible with the idea that the DG flora may be essentially a relic of the early Holocene. In sub-Saharan Africa, where maintaining a vast area of natural forest is difficult due to human pressure, efforts to preserve maximum species diversity should include a focus on the conservation of minor forest refuges, particularly in sub-humid mountain riparian zone.

Adjossou, K., Kokou, K., & Deconchat, M. (2022). Floristic composition and turnover analysis in Dahomey Gap and the surrounding sub-humid Togolese mountain minor forest refuges: Importance for biogeography and biodiversity conservation in sub-Saharan Africa. Ecology and Evolution, 12, e9304.

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