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Sci Rep. 2015 Aug 17;5:13156. doi: 10.1038/srep13156.

Seeing Central African forests through their largest trees.

Author information

1
1] Landscape Ecology and Plant Production Systems Unit, Université libre de Bruxelles, CP264-2, B-1050 Bruxelles, Belgium [2] BIOSE Department, Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech, Université de Liège, B-5030 Gembloux, Belgium [3] Ecole Régionale post-universitaire d'Aménagement et de gestion Intégrés des Forêts et Territoires tropicaux, Kinshasa, DR Congo.
2
UMR AMAP, IRD, F-34000 Montpellier, France.
3
1] UMR AMAP, IRD, F-34000 Montpellier, France [2] UPR BSEF, CIRAD, Campus International de Baillarguet, F-34398 Montpellier, France.
4
BIOSE Department, Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech, Université de Liège, B-5030 Gembloux, Belgium.
5
UPR BSEF, CIRAD, Campus International de Baillarguet, F-34398 Montpellier, France.
6
Environmental Change Institute, School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.
7
1] BIOSE Department, Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech, Université de Liège, B-5030 Gembloux, Belgium [2] Laboratory for Wood Biology and Xylarium, Royal Museum for Central Africa, Tervuren, Belgium.
8
Ministère des Eaux, Forêts, Chasse et Pêche, BP 3314 Bangui, Central African Republic.
9
Laboratory for Wood Biology and Xylarium, Royal Museum for Central Africa, Tervuren, Belgium.
10
Université de Bangui - Cerphameta, BP 1450 Bangui, Central African Republic.
11
Department of Plant and Animal Sciences, University of Buea, P.O. Box 63, Buea, Cameroon.
12
Laboratoire d'Evolution Biologique et Ecologie, Faculté des Sciences, Université libre de Bruxelles, CP160-12, Brussels, Belgium.
13
Centre de Formation et de Recherche en Conservation Forestière (CEFRECOF), Wildlife Conservation Society, Kinshasa, DR Congo.
14
1] UPR BSEF, CIRAD, Campus International de Baillarguet, F-34398 Montpellier, France [2] National Herbarium, P.O BOX 1601, Yaoundé, Cameroon [3] CIFOR, Central African Regional Office, P.O. Box 2008 Messa, Yaoundé, Cameroon.
15
Lukuru Wildlife Research Foundation, Kinshasa, Gombe, DR Congo.
16
Wildlife Conservation Society - DRC Program, Kinshasa, DR Congo.
17
CTFS-ForestGEO, Department of Botany, MRC 166, Smithsonian Institution, P.O. Box 37012, Washington, DC 20013-7012, USA.
18
1] UMR AMAP, IRD, F-34000 Montpellier, France [2] Plant Systematic and Ecology Laboratory, Department of Biology, University of Yaounde 1, Yaounde, Cameroon.
19
1] Ecole Régionale post-universitaire d'Aménagement et de gestion Intégrés des Forêts et Territoires tropicaux, Kinshasa, DR Congo [2] Behavioural Biology Unit, University of Liege, Liege, Belgium [3] Conservation Biology Unit, Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, Brussels, Belgium [4] Department of Primatology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany.
20
Plant Systematic and Ecology Laboratory, Department of Biology, University of Yaounde 1, Yaounde, Cameroon.
21
Missouri Botanical Garden, Africa and Madagascar Department, St Louis, MO, USA.
22
Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA.
23
Landscape Ecology and Plant Production Systems Unit, Université libre de Bruxelles, CP264-2, B-1050 Bruxelles, Belgium.

Abstract

Large tropical trees and a few dominant species were recently identified as the main structuring elements of tropical forests. However, such result did not translate yet into quantitative approaches which are essential to understand, predict and monitor forest functions and composition over large, often poorly accessible territories. Here we show that the above-ground biomass (AGB) of the whole forest can be predicted from a few large trees and that the relationship is proved strikingly stable in 175 1-ha plots investigated across 8 sites spanning Central Africa. We designed a generic model predicting AGB with an error of 14% when based on only 5% of the stems, which points to universality in forest structural properties. For the first time in Africa, we identified some dominant species that disproportionally contribute to forest AGB with 1.5% of recorded species accounting for over 50% of the stock of AGB. Consequently, focusing on large trees and dominant species provides precise information on the whole forest stand. This offers new perspectives for understanding the functioning of tropical forests and opens new doors for the development of innovative monitoring strategies.

PMID:
26279193
PMCID:
PMC4538397
DOI:
10.1038/srep13156
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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