SINASSON Gisèle (2017). Ethnobotany and Ecology of Mimusops andongensis Hiern and Mimusops kummel Bruce Ex A. DC: implications for the species management and conservation in Benin (West Africa). Ecole Doctorale des Sciences Agronomiques, Université d’Abomey-Calavi. Benin. 214 pages.
Supervisors: Prof. Brice Sinsin and Prof. Charlie Shackleton (Rhodes University, South Africa).
Abstract: Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs) are very important resources as they help local people to meet their basic needs in terms of health, food, energy, shelter and cash income through trade. However, due to multiple pressures faced by forest species, their conservation remains a substantial challenge worldwide and understanding NTFP species uses and general autecology of remaining populations is highly relevant. The present study aimed to: (i) assess distribution and morphological differentiation of Mimusops andongensis and Mimusops kummel in Benin; (ii) assess ecological factors underlying their distribution and potential impact of climate change on suitable habitats; (iii) identify exploited parts and uses, and local knowledge on occurrence habitats and threats faced; (iv) analyze the synergistic impact of multiple pressures on population of M. andongensis; (v) characterize population structure and morphology of both species, in the context of ecological stresses and anthropogenic pressures; and (vi) characterize their phenology in relation to abiotic and biotic drivers. Length of flower pedicel served to separate the two species. Although mean values of leaf characteristics seemed higher for M. kummel, the measures overlapped. Contrary to literature, M. andongensis is present in the Guineo-Congolian zone while M. kummel occurs in the Guineo-Sudanian and Sudanian zones, with no overlap in their distribution. Both species preferred soil conditions which allow prolonged high water holding capacity, though with differences in soil composition. Suitable areas are mainly limited to humid zone for M. andongensis, and mostly located in sub-humid zone for M. kummel. Protected suitable areas forM. andongensis will decrease in the future, while for M. kummel they will be stable. The most used parts are wood, young stems, bark and leaves. Both species were mainly exploited for medicinal purposes but also in construction and as firewood. We found similarities in some uses of the species, although exploited by different ethnic groups in different ecological zones. Population of M. andongensis was decreasing, whereas for less than one-third M. kummelwas decreasing. Factors responsible for this decrease are changing land use, exploitation, limited regeneration and bushfires. Densities of adult trees and regeneration of M. andongensis decreased with increasing degradation. There were fewer M. andongensis recruits with increasing C. odorata cover. Smaller dbh trees predominated in non-degraded and moderately degraded sites while in degraded sites, their density was less than 2 trees/ha. Larger trees were also rare in degraded sites. The low density of both mature trees and seedlings in degraded sites may undermine the long-term viability of M. andongensis, despite the existing protection against NTFP harvesting and other anthropogenic pressures. Density of trees ≥ 5 cm and regeneration were higher in the more protected forest than in forests still accessed. There are significant relationships between regeneration density and soil properties for M.andongensis but not for M. kummel. Correlations between tree morphology and soil characteristics were weak, for both species. The population was stable in the more protected forest relative to other forests. Flowering started from the dry season through to the beginning of the rainy season, while fruiting occurred in the rainy season for both species. Flowering was positively correlated with temperature. Conversely, fruiting was negatively correlated with temperature and positively with rainfall. For M. andongensis, both flowering and fruiting was positively linked to tree dbh, while only flowering was significantly related to canopy position. The relationship with tree dbh was significant for flowering prevalence only and in the Guineo-Sudanian zone, for M. kummel. Results suggested phylogenetic membership as important factor restricting Mimusops species phenology. The phenology of both species is influenced by climate, and climate change might shift its pattern and affect the species population, and other organisms and services related to them. M. andongensis and M. kummel are two interesting endogenous plant species that have potential for commercial uses (preparation of tea, juice or local beverage, jams and jellies) to contribute to improvement of local peoples livelihoods. We suggested the valorisation of the species could incite, under the right circumstances, effective actions for their sustainable use, thus their preservation.
Keywords: Benin, ecological niche modelling, ethnobotany, gap analysis, multiple pressures, NTFP species, population structure, taxonomic differentiation.