Patterns of plant functional traits in the biogeography of West African grasses (Poaceae)

Schmidt, Marco
Thiombiano, Adjima
Zizka, Alexander
K├Ânig, Konstantin
Brunken, Ulrike
Zizka, Georg
African Journal of Ecology
Publication Year: 
Grasses (Poaceae) are the largest family of vascular plants in Burkina Faso with 254 species. In the savannahs they are the most important family in terms of abundance and species richness, in other habitats, such as gallery forests, there are only few species. On the country scale there is a change in growth form: while in the Sahelian north most grasses are small therophytes, the Sudanian south is characterized by tall, often perennial grasses. To analyse these patterns in detail, we compiled a database on grass occurrences and used it in an ecological niche modelling approach with the programme Maxent to obtain country-wide distribution models. Secondly we used data on photosynthetic type, height, leaf width and growth form to aggregate the species distributions and quantified the relative importance of functional groups per grid cell. Pronounced latitudinal differences could be shown for life forms, photosynthesis and size: the drier north is characterized by smaller, mainly therophytic grasses with a high share of C4 NAD-ME photosynthesis, while the more humid south is characterized by tall, often hemicryptophytic grasses with C4 NADP-ME photosynthesis. For leaf width, no clear country-wide patterns could be observed, but local differences with more broad-leaved grasses in humid areas.
Name of Journal: 
African Journal of Ecology
Resource Type: 
Document Type: 
Journal Issue/Article
Grassland Society of Southern Africa

The Grassland Society of Southern Africa (GSSA) is involved and concerned with the science and practice of range and pasture management. This broad field involves primarily the use and conservation of natural resources. It encompasses applied fields such as livestock production, wildlife management, nature conservation, water catchment management and range and mine-dump rehabilitation. The disciplines include, amongst others, ecology, botany zoology, range and pasture science, animal science, soil science and genetics. This collection includes journal articles from the African Journal of Range and Forage Science as well as related articles and reports from throughout the Southern African region.