Plant Ecology and Evolution 154(3): 362-375, doi: 10.5091/plecevo.2021.1713
Spatial distribution patterns of Afzelia africana (Fabaceae – Detarioideae) in a tropical savanna of Benin: implications for management
expand article infoJustin Akpovi Atanasso, Kolawolé Valère Salako§, Sylvanus Mensah, Roméo Jesukpégo Tohoun, Bruno DJOSSA|, Romain Glèlè Kakaï, Achille Ephrem Assogbadjo
‡ Laboratoire de Biomathématiques et d’Estimations Forestières, Faculté des Sciences Agronomiques, Université d’Abomey-Calavi, Cotonou, Benin§ Abomey-Calavi, Benin| Forestry and Bioresource Conservation Research Unit, Kétou, Benin
Open Access

Background and aims – Understanding the spatial patterns and associations of tree species with their conspecific and heterospecific neighbours is critical for sustainable management of their stands. This study assessed the intra- and interspecific spatial structure of six life stages in Afzelia africana, a keystone multipurpose and endangered tree species in a tropical savanna of Benin.

Material and methods – Three plots of 4 ha each were demarcated on three sites along a conservation gradient (hunting zone – core conservation zone). Individuals of A. africana (irrespective of their diameter at breast height) and heterospecific trees (dbh ≥ 5 cm) were mapped. Tree spatial patterns and associations were determined using univariate and bivariate pair correlation functions. The distance to the nearest neighbour was further used to assess tree-to-tree distance.

Key results – We found variable spatial patterns across sites. In the core zone where wildlife density is high, most life stages had a random distribution. In contrast, in the hunting zone where wildlife density is low, the species spatial distribution changed from a predominantly aggregative pattern during early stages to a less aggregative or random spatial pattern for very large adults. Most pairs of life stages showed neutral associations, except for small and large adults, which had positive association between themselves on two sites. We also found that A. africana tree spatial distribution was unrelated to heterospecific trees.

Conclusion – We suggest that bush fire, seed dispersion, predation, and local environment would have contributed to the observed patterns.

pair correlation function, plant coexistence, plant-plant interactions, point pattern process, silviculture, tree-to-tree distance


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