Skip to Main content Skip to Navigation
Journal articles

Agreement between floristic and soil organic carbon isotope (13C/12C, 14C) indicators of forest invasion of savannas during the last century, in Cameroon.

Abstract : In an area of savanna-forest (S-F) mosaic of Cameroon, at Kandara near Bertoua, an enclosed savanna bordered by young semi-deciduous forests was selected for detailed studies of vegetation and soil carbon isotope compositions with a view to estimating the rate of forest advance into savannas. Forest floristic composition and structure were analysed in small plots along two S-F transects and within two large stands. Tree species counts and basal area (BA) measurements gave convergent results defining (1) an edge forest with low BA values that forms an irregular strip parallel to the S-F border, (2) a large colonization zone zone composed of pioneer species (Albizia species, with individuals of very large diameter) and (3) a mature forest composed of abundant Rinorea individuals and large individuals of Triplochiton scleroxylon and Piptadeniastrum africanum. Carbon stable isotopes were deter mined from organic matter of soil profiles sampled at various depths in savanna, colonization-zone and mature forest. In the deep soil horizons (40-50 cm) of the colonization-zone profiles, [delta]13C values similar to those of the present savanna reveal the past existence of a large-tree savanna. In subsurface horizons (15-20 cm), [delta]13C values intermediate between those of savanna and mature forest prove the encroachment of the forest ecosystem on savanna. Using 14C measurements, the mean residence time (MRT) of soil organic matter of these last horizons was determined with precision owing to the atmospheric 14C pulse from nuclear bomb tests prior to 1964. By assuming an exponential age distribution of organic compounds and by taking account of MRT and remaining carbon from the savanna, the coloniza tion zone was found to be 60-80 y old. The age of the colonization zone being the same near the present savanna and near the mature forest, it seems that the forest advance was probably not a linear process but would result from the coalescence of Albizia thickets born in savanna.
Document type :
Journal articles
Complete list of metadata
Contributor : Nathalie Pothier <>
Submitted on : Wednesday, August 23, 2006 - 10:12:49 AM
Last modification on : Monday, May 31, 2021 - 1:52:02 PM

Links full text



Bernard Guillet, Gaston Achoundong, Joseph Youta Happi, Véronique Kamgang Kebeye Beyala, Jacques Bonvallot, et al.. Agreement between floristic and soil organic carbon isotope (13C/12C, 14C) indicators of forest invasion of savannas during the last century, in Cameroon.. Journal of Tropical Ecology, Cambridge University Press (CUP), 2001, 17, pp.809-832. ⟨10.1017/S0266467401001614⟩. ⟨hal-00089763⟩



Record views