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Agroforestry Systems

, 77:159 | Cite as

Plant species richness and diversity in urban and peri-urban gardens of Niamey, Niger

  • Hannah Bernholt
  • Katja Kehlenbeck
  • Jens Gebauer
  • Andreas Buerkert
Article

Abstract

Urban and peri-urban agriculture (UPA) significantly contributes to food and nutritional security of urban dwellers in many African countries. Economic and demographic pressures often lead to transformation of subsistence-oriented traditional homegardens into commercial production units. Such transformation is claimed to result in decreasing plant diversity, particularly of local species. A study was therefore undertaken in 51 gardens of Niamey, Niger, to assess the factors determining plant diversity and the suitability of UPA for in situ conservation of plant genetic resources. In each garden, the number and abundance of all human-used plant species were determined, and species density, Shannon index and Shannon evenness were calculated. In the 51 surveyed gardens, a total of 116 plant species were cultivated, most of them for the production of fruits or vegetables. Annual vegetables dominated, particularly exotic species grown for sale. In the cold season, an average of 14 species were cultivated per garden, the Shannon index was 0.96 and evenness was 0.39. Commercial gardens had a species richness similar to that of subsistence gardens, but a lower evenness (P < 0.005), caused by the dominance of a few vegetable species. Gardens of immigrants had a lower Shannon index than those of members of the local Djerma ethnic group. Stepwise multiple regression analysis showed significant influence of various variables on plant species richness and diversity parameters: garden size (richness and Shannon index), ethnicity of the gardener (richness and evenness), gender of the gardener and cash-oriented production (evenness), household size (richness) and garden possession status (Shannon index). Cluster analysis revealed the existence of five garden types. The highest species richness and diversity, particularly of perennial and local species, was found in large, peri-urban, commercial gardens managed by relatively wealthy, elderly gardeners with large families and a regular non-agricultural income.

Keywords

Cluster analysis Commercialisation In situ conservation Plant genetic resources Urban agriculture 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We wish to thank the gardeners of Niamey for their friendly cooperation and hospitality, without which it would not have been possible to conduct this research. The support provided by the field assistants Ibrahim Moussa and Moussa Abdourahamane as well as by Rodrigue V.C. Diogo, Martina Predotova, Katja Brinkmann and Dirk Nöding is gratefully acknowledged. This study was supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) within the project ‘Plant-animal based matter fluxes and production efficiencies in urban and peri-urban agriculture of a West African city’ (BU 1308).

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hannah Bernholt
    • 1
  • Katja Kehlenbeck
    • 2
  • Jens Gebauer
    • 1
  • Andreas Buerkert
    • 1
  1. 1.Organic Plant Production and Agroecosystems Research in the Tropics and SubtropicsUniversity of KasselWitzenhausenGermany
  2. 2.Tree Genetic Resources and DomesticationWorld Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)NairobiKenya

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