5 years ago

Response of a tropical tree to non-timber forest products harvest and reduction in habitat size

Armand K. Natta, Orou G. Gaoue, Choukouratou Gado, M’Mouyohoun Kouagou

by Orou G. Gaoue, M’Mouyohoun Kouagou, Armand K. Natta, Choukouratou Gado

Non-timber forest products (NTFPs) are widely harvested by local people for their livelihood. Harvest often takes place in human disturbed ecosystems. However, our understanding of NTFPs harvesting impacts in fragmented habitats is limited. We assessed the impacts of fruit harvest, and reduction in habitat size on the population structures of Pentadesma butyracea Sabine (Clusiaceae) across two contrasting ecological regions (dry vs. moist) in Benin. In each region, we selected three populations for each of the three fruit harvesting intensities (low, medium and high). Harvesting intensities were estimated as the proportion of fruits harvested per population. Pentadesma butyracea is found in gallery forests along rivers and streams. We used the width of gallery forests as a measure of habitat size. We found negative effects of fruit harvest on seedling and adult density but no significant effect on population size class distribution in both ecological regions. The lack of significant effect of fruit harvest on population structure may be explained by the ability of P. butyracea to compensate for the negative effect of fruit harvesting by increasing clonal reproduction. Our results suggest that using tree density and population structure to assess the ecological impacts of harvesting clonal plants should be done with caution.

Publisher URL: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0183964

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