Species composition and factors that control the distribution of freshwater swamp forests in West Africa are largely unknown. To achieve this, 24, one-hectare forest plots were established to assess the tree species (DBH ≥ 10 cm) distribution across the ecosystem. A total of 138 species within 100 genera and 41 families were distributed across the forest plots and 47 species were identified as indicator species. These indicator species were used to constrain the species-environmental categories across three broad habitat types: the disturbed freshwater zone, the mangrove-freshwater transition zone and the intact freshwater zone. While 40 species are associated with one of the three forest categories, seven of them coexisted in disturbed and mangrove-freshwater zones. Disturbance (local factors) was identified as the most important determinant of the species distribution followed by the climatic factors. Future climate predictions for the locations are quite variable and suggest that some species may be non-viable as the ecosystem’s composition may alter. While the indicator species provides insights on the species-environment relationships, and is useful for informing forest conservation and planning, their tendency to continually co-exist with others and provide vital functions is dependent on how sustainably the people use them.
Ecological patterns and sustainability of freshwater swamp forest ecosystems: assessing climate and disturbance interactions
AuthorsNwabueze Ikenna Igu,
Categories: Research development