Plant Ecology and Evolution 144(3): 255-266, doi: 10.5091/plecevo.2011.478
Structural and floristic typology of the forests in the forest-savanna mosaic of the Lopé National Park, Gabon
expand article infoFlorence Palla, Nicolas Picard, Kate A. Abernethy, Tharcisse Ukizintambara, Elizabeth C. White, Bernard Riéra, Jean-Paul Rudant, Lee White
Open Access
Background and aims – The Lopé National Park in Gabon, recently added to the UNESCO world heritage list, presents a mosaic of forest and savanna that dynamically changes. Conserving this landscape requires an understanding of the forest dynamics. This study aims at defining a forest typology at Lopé in relation with its dynamics. Methods – Floristic and structural characteristics for 265 tree species belonging to 55 families were measured in 258 sampling plots in the Lopé National Park. Multivariate analysis of these data was used to partition the sampling plots into groups on the basis of their floristic or structural characteristics. Key results – Five structural forest types and six floristic forest types were identified. This typology showed that the forests in the forest-savanna mosaic of Lopé organize themselves along a gradient of forest recovery, from young forests to mature forests. Typical pioneer species are associated with the youngest forest stages. The gradient on the species also corresponds to a geographical gradient on the sampling plots, associated with features like altitude, rocks, or hydrography. Conclusions – Five forest types were defined on the basis of species abundances. The snapshot of forest types characterizes a dynamic process of forest regeneration.