Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Appears in Collections:Biological and Environmental Sciences Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: The biogeography of Gabonese savannas: Evidence from termite community richness and composition
Author(s): Evouna Ondo, Fidèle
Jeffery, Kathryn J
Whytock, Robin
Abernethy, Katharine A
Couteron, Pierre
Eggleton, Paul
Griffin, Claire
Ostle, Nicolas J.
Koumba Pambo, Aurelie‐Flore
Ngomanda, Alfred
Edzang Ndong, Josué
Parr, Catherine L
Contact Email:
Keywords: biogeography
Central Africa
DNA barcoding
Issue Date: Sep-2023
Date Deposited: 10-Oct-2023
Citation: Evouna Ondo F, Jeffery KJ, Whytock R, Abernethy K, Couteron P, Eggleton P, Griffin C, Ostle NJ, Koumba Pambo A, Ngomanda A, Edzang Ndong J & Parr CL (2023) The biogeography of Gabonese savannas: Evidence from termite community richness and composition. <i>Journal of Biogeography</i>, 50 (9), pp. 1505-1518.
Abstract: Aim The mosaic of savannas that persists in the forest-dominant Congo Basin is thought to be palaeoclimatic relics, but past biogeographical processes that have formed and maintained these systems are poorly understood. Here, we explored the post-Pleistocene biogeography of Gabon's savannas using termites as biological indicators to understand historical and mechanistic factors influencing present-day termite communities in the country's extant savannas. Location Gabon, Central Africa. Taxon Blattodea: Termitoidae. Methods Using standardised transect methods, we sampled termite communities in four disjunct modern savanna areas of Gabon: the centre (Lopé), the southeast (Batéké) and the south (Mayombe North and South). Termites at Lopé were collected in three habitats (annually burned savannas, savannas with a depressed fire regime and forest). We used DNA barcoding of the COII region to identify termite species and compared abundance, species richness and community composition across areas and habitats. Results Community composition differed greatly between Lopé and both Batéké and Mayombe savannas with Lopé being exceptionally depauperate and lacking characteristic savanna species. Within Lopé, termite abundance and diversity was highest in forests and lowest in annually burned savannas, with a gradual change in species composition across the forest–savanna gradient associated with fire history. Main Conclusions The absence of savanna typical species in Lopé savannas challenges current assumptions that these savannas were linked to the south/southeastern savannas during the Pleistocene and suggests a different evolutionary history. Lopé savannas may instead have opened as an isolated grassland and never have been contiguous with neighbouring savannas, or were isolated soon after forest expansion began and have now lost savanna-typical species. Furthermore, the patterns of termite community composition in fire suppressed savannas support a hypothesis of rapid change driven by fire frequency where either fire suppression or infrequent burning over 23 years has meant savannas have become ecologically much more forest-like.
DOI Link: 10.1111/jbi.14671
Rights: © 2023 The Authors. Journal of Biogeography published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Licence URL(s):

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
Ondo-etal-JB-2023.pdfFulltext - Published Version6.95 MBAdobe PDFView/Open

This item is protected by original copyright

A file in this item is licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons

Items in the Repository are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.

The metadata of the records in the Repository are available under the CC0 public domain dedication: No Rights Reserved

If you believe that any material held in STORRE infringes copyright, please contact providing details and we will remove the Work from public display in STORRE and investigate your claim.