Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution

, Volume 61, Issue 2, pp 313–330 | Cite as

Home gardens: an assessment of their biodiversity and potential contribution to conservation of threatened species and crop wild relatives in Benin

  • Valère Kolawolé Salako
  • Belarmain FandohanEmail author
  • Barthélémy Kassa
  • Achille Ephrem Assogbadjo
  • Alix Franck Rodrigue Idohou
  • Rodrigue Castro Gbedomon
  • Sebastian Chakeredza
  • Mohammad Ehsan Dulloo
  • Romain Glele Kakaï
Research Article


Despite growing literature supporting the importance of home gardens (HG) as biodiversity hotspots, knowledge of patterns of their contribution to conservation of threatened species and crop wild relatives (CWR) across climate and culture in Africa is still limited. This investigation was conducted across three climatic zones to assess the floristic diversity of home gardens and the extent to which they contribute to conservation of threatened species and CWR. Overall, 240 home gardens were sampled and their floristic diversity assessed. The ecological importance of recorded species was determined per climatic zone using the importance value index (IVI). A cluster analysis was performed to group the species according to their IVI-values and a principal component analysis helped to identify the most important species. 285 species were inventoried throughout the study area. Home garden species’ diversity globally declined from the drier to the wetter zone but was highest in the transition zone. The average number of species found per HG was 10.1 and varied weakly across zones (9.07, Guineo-Congolean zone; 10.77, Sudano-Guinean zone; and 10.53, Sudanian zone). The most important home gardens species in the Sudanian, the Sudano-Guinean and the Guineo-Congolean zones were respectively: Abelmoschus esculentus (L.) Moench and Hibiscus asper Hook.f.; Solanum lycopersicum L. and Zea mays L.; Ipomoea aquatica Forssk. and Senna occidentalis (L.) Link. They were mainly vegetables and used as food and/or medicinal plant species. Twenty CWR and twelve threatened species were recorded and were also mainly used for food and medicinal purposes. Thorough research on socioeconomic factors supporting possession of HG and choice of managed species as well as indigenous management strategies of HG and dynamic of traditional knowledge related to HG may help to deeply assess home gardens’ effectiveness in biodiversity conservation.


Conservation status Climatic zones Floristic inventory Importance value index West Africa 



We are grateful to E.A. Assogbadjo who financially supported this study. B. Fandohan also received a post doctoral research fellow grant from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Grant No 2012Y1ZA0009) and a research grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant no 312111172) which provided him with excellent scientific environment to contribute to the manuscript. We also thank anonymous reviewers for helpful discussions and criticisms on a previous version of this manuscript. The first author also thank his fellows of the 14th Student Conference on Conservation Sciences (SCCS) for their valuable comments on his presentation about this work.


  1. Achigan-Dako E, Pasquini MW, Assogba-Komlan F, N’danikou S, Dansi A, Ambrose-Oji B (eds) (2010). Traditional vegetables in Benin: diversity, distribution, ecology, agronomy and utilizationGoogle Scholar
  2. Achigan-Dako EG, N’danikou S, Assogba-Komlan F, Ambrose-Oji B, Ahanchede A, Pasquini MW (2011) Diversity, geographical, and consumption patterns of traditional vegetables in sociolinguistic communities in Benin: implications for domestication and utilization. Econ Bot 65(2):129–145CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Adomou AC, Sinsin B, Akoégninou AA, Van der Maesen J (2010) Plant species and ecosystems with high conservation priority in Benin. In: van der Burgt XM, van der Maesen J, Onana JM (eds) Systematics and conservation of African plants. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, pp 427–441Google Scholar
  4. Agbahungba AG, Sokpon N, Gaoué OG (2001) Situation des ressources génétiques forestières du Bénin. Note thématique sur les ressources génétiques forestières. FAO. IPGRI/SAFORGEN/DFSC and ICRAFGoogle Scholar
  5. Agelet A, Bonet MA, Vallès J (2000) Homegardens and their role as a main source of medicinal plants in mountain regions of Catalonia (Iberian Peninsula). Econ Bot 54:295–309CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Anley Y, Bogale A, Haile-Gabriel A (2007) Adoption decision and use intensity of soil and water conservation measures by smallholder subsistence farmers in Dedo district, Wester Ethiopia. Land Degrad Dev 18:289–302CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Arya D, Tewari A, Shah S (2010) Erosion of biodiversity knowledge between younger and older generation regarding plant identification and their uses in oak and pine dominated zone of Garhwal Himalaya. NY Sci J 3(6):108–111Google Scholar
  8. Assogbadjo AE, Fandohan B, Glèlè Kakaï R, Kyndt T, Hardy OJ, Gheysen G, Sinsin B (2012a) Genetic evidence of the contribution of ethnic migrations to the propagation and persistence of the rare and declining scrambling shrub Caesalpinia bonduc L. Hum Ecol 40:117–128CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Assogbadjo AE, Glèlè Kakaï R, Adjallala FH, Azihou AF, Vodouhê GF, Kyndt T, Codjia JTC (2011) Ethnic differences in use value and use patterns of the threatened multipurpose scrambling shrub (Caesalpinia bonduc L.) in Benin. J Med Plant Res 5(9):1549–1557Google Scholar
  10. Assogbadjo AE, Glèlè Kakaï R, Vodouhê FG, Djagoun CAMS, Codjia JTC, Sinsin B (2012b) Biodiversity and socioeconomic factors supporting farmers’ choice of wild edible trees in the agroforestry systems of Benin (West Africa). Forest Policy and Economics 14:41–49CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Avohou HT, Vodouhe RS, Dansi A, Bellon M, Kpeki B (2012) Ethnobotanical factors influencing the use and management of wild edible plants in agricultural environments in Benin. Ethnobot Res Appl 10:571–592Google Scholar
  12. Bhagwat SA, Willis KJ, Birks HJB, Whittaker RJ (2008) Agroforestry: a refuge for tropical biodiversity? Trends Ecol Evol 23:261–267PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Birol E, Bela G, Smale M (2005) The role of home gardens in promoting multi-functional agriculture in Hungary. EuroChoices 3:14–21CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Bokula M (1984) Le point des recherché sur la classification des langues Niger-Congo Kordonfaniennes. Ann Aequatoria 5(1984):127–137Google Scholar
  15. Braun-Blanquet J (1964) Pflanzensoziologie. Grundzüge der Vegetationskunde. 3e ed., Springer, Wien-New YorkGoogle Scholar
  16. Brosi BJ, Balick MJ, Wolkow R, Lee R, Kostka M, Raynor W, Gallen R, Raynor A, Raynor P, Lee Ling D (2007) Cultural erosion and biodiversity: canoe-making knowledge in Pohnpei Micronesia. Conserv Biol 21(3):875–879PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Brown JH, Davidson DW (1977) Competition between seed-eating rodents and ants in desert ecosystems. Science 196(4292):880–882PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Castiñeiras Alfonso L, Guzmán FA, Duque EMC, Shagarodsky T, Cristóbal R, De Vicente MC (2007) AFLPs and morphological diversity of Phaseolus lunatus L. in Cuban home gardens: approaches to recovering the lost ex situ collection. Biodivers Conserv 16:2847–2865CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Choi SS (2008) Correlation analysis of binary similarity measures and dissimilarity measures, Dissertation, Pace University Google Scholar
  20. Curtis JT, Macintosh RP (1951) An upland forest continuum in the prairie forest border region of Wisconsin. Ecology 32:476–496CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Dagnelie P (1998) Statistiques théoriques et appliquées. De Boeck et Larcier, BrusselsGoogle Scholar
  22. Edward L, MdE Kabir (2009) Home gardening for tropical biodiversity conservation. Conserv Biol 23(6):1641–1644CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Engels J (2001) Home gardens—a genetic resource perspective. In: Watson JW, Eyzaguirre PB (eds) Proceedings of the second international home garden workshop. Bioversity international, Rome, Italy, pp 3–9Google Scholar
  24. Eyzaguirre P (2006) Agricultural biodiversity and how human culture is shaping it. In: Cernea M, Kassam A (eds) Researching the culture in agriculture. CABI, Wallingford, UK, pp 264–284Google Scholar
  25. Eyzaguirre P, Linares O (2004) Introduction. In: Eyzaguirre P, Linares O (eds) Home gardens and agro- biodiversity. Smithsonian Books, Washington, pp 1–28Google Scholar
  26. Favrichon V, Gourlet-Fleury F, Bar-Hen A, Dessard H (1998) Parcelles permanentes de recherche en forêt dense tropicale humide. Eléments pour une méthodologie d’analyse des données CIRAD-Forêt. Série FORAFRI, document 15Google Scholar
  27. Fernandes ECM, Nair PKN (1986) An evaluation of the structure and function of tropical home gardens. Agric Syst 21:279–310CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Feuillet C, Langridge P, Waugh R (2008) Cereal breeding takes a walk on the wild side. Trends Genet 24:24–32PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Galluzzi G, Eyzaguirre P, Negri V (2010) Home gardens: neglected hotspots of agro-biodiversity and cultural diversity. Biodivers Conserv 19:3635–3654CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Gardner TA, Barlow J, Chazdon R, Ewers R, Harvey CA, Peres CA, Sodhi NS (2009) Prospects for tropical forest biodiversity in a human-modified world. Ecol Lett 12:561–582PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Gillet F (2000) La Phytosociologie synusiale intégrée. Guide méthodologique. Université de Neuchâtel, Institut de Botanique. Document du Laboratoire d’Ecologie Végétale1Google Scholar
  32. Guarino L, Hoogendijk M (2004) Microenvironments. In: Eyzaguirre P, Linares O (eds) Home gardens and agrobiodiversity. Smithsonian Books, Washington, USA, pp 31–40Google Scholar
  33. Hajjar R, Hodgkin T (2007) The use of wild relatives in crop improvement: a survey of developments over the last 20 years. Euphytica 156:1–13CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hammer K, Laghetti G, Perrino P (1999) A checklist of the cultivated plants of Ustica (Italy). Genet Resour Crop Evol 46:95–106CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Hijmans RJ, Cameron SE, Parra JL, Jones PG, Jarvis A (2004) The WorldClim interpolated global terrestrial climate surfaces. Version 1.3.
  36. Hodel U, Gessler M (1999) In situ conservation of plant genetic resources in home gardens of southern Vietnam. International Plant Genetic Resources Institute, RomeGoogle Scholar
  37. Hodgkin T (2001) Home garden and the maintenance of genetic diversity. In: Waston JW, Eyzaguirre PB (eds) Home garden and in situ conservation of plant genetic resources in farming systems. International Plant Genetic Resources Institute, Rome, Italy, pp 14–18Google Scholar
  38. Hughes CE, Govindarajulu R, Robertson A, Filer DL, Harris SA, Bailey CD (2007) Serendipitous backyard hybridization and the origin of crops. Proc Natl Acad Sci 104:14389–14394PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Idohou R, Assogbadjo AE, Fandohan B, Gouwakinnou GN, Glèlè Kakaï RL, Sinsin B, Maxted N (2013) National inventory and prioritization of the crop wild relatives: case study for Benin. Genetic resources and crop evolution. Genet Resour Crop Evol 60:1337–1352CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Institut National de Statistique Appliquée et d’Economie (INSAE) (2002) Recensement général de la population humaine du Bénin. INSAE, Cotonou, BeninGoogle Scholar
  41. Institut National de Statistique Appliquée et d’Economie (INSAE) (2003) Analyses des résultats. Troisième recensement general de la population et de l’habitation cotonouGoogle Scholar
  42. IUCN (2012) IUCN red list of threatened species. Version 2011.2. <>. Accessed 15 Aug 2012
  43. Kabir MdE, Webb EL (2008) Floristics and structure of south-western Bangladesh homegardens. Int J Biodiversity Sci Manag 3:1–11Google Scholar
  44. Kulpa W, Hanelt P (1981) Activities regarding collection and evaluation of Polish landraces. Kulturpflanze 29:81–90CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Lebrun JP, Stork AL (1991–1997) Enumération des plantes à fleurs d’Afrique tropicale. 4 volumes. Conservatoire et Jardin Botanique de la ville de GenèveGoogle Scholar
  46. Leiva JM, Azurdia C, Ovando W, López E, Ayala H (2001) Contributions of home gardens to in situ conservation in traditional farming systems—Guatemalan component. In: Watson JW, Eyzaguirre PB (eds) Proceedings of the second international home gardens workshop. Bioversity International, Rome, Italy, pp 56–72Google Scholar
  47. Lewis MP (ed.) (2009) Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Sixteenth edition. Dallas, Tex.: SIL International. Online version:
  48. Linares OF (1996) Cultivating biological and cultural diversity: urban farming in Casamance, Senegal. Africa 66:104–121CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Lohani U (2011) Eroding ethnozoological knowledge among Magars in Central Nepal. Indian J Tradit Knowl 10(3):466–473Google Scholar
  50. Natta AK (2003) Ecological assessment of riparian forest in Benin: phytodiversity, phytosociology and spatial distribution of tree species. PhD dissertation, Wageningen UniversityGoogle Scholar
  51. Neuenschwander P, Sinsin B, Goergen G (2011) Protection de la nature en Afrique de l’Ouest: une liste rouge pour le Bénin. Nature conservation in West Africa: Red List for Benin. International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Ibadan, NigeriaGoogle Scholar
  52. Nunney L, Campbell KA (1993) Assessing minimum viable population size: demography meets population genetics. Trends Ecol Evol 8:234–239PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Odhav B, Beekrum S, Akula U, Baijnath H (2007) Preliminary assessment of nutritional value of traditional leafy vegetables in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. J Food Compos Anal 20:430–435CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Pavia R, Barbagiovanni I, Strada GD, Piazza MG, Engel P, Fideghelli C (2009) Autochthonous fruit tree germplasm at risk of genetic erosion found in home gardens in the region of Latium (Italy). In: Proceedings of a workshop on crop genetic resources in European home gardens. Bioversity international, Rome, ItalyGoogle Scholar
  55. Perrault-Archambault M, Coomes OT (2008) Distribution of agrobiodiversity in home gardens along the Corrientes River, Peruvian Amazon. Econ Bot 62:109–126CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Quiroz C, Gutiérrez M, Rodríquez D, Pérez D, Ynfante J, Gámez J, de Fernandez TP, Marques A, Pacheco W (2004) Home gardens and in situ conservation of agrobiodiversity—Venezuelan component. In: Watson J, Eyzaguirre PB (eds) Home gardens and in situ conservation of plant genetic resources in farming systems. International Plant Genetic Resources Institute, Rome, Italy, pp 73–82Google Scholar
  57. Raunkiaer C (1934) The life forms of plants and statistical plant geography. Clarendron Press, LondonGoogle Scholar
  58. Schneider J (2004) Toward an analysis of home garden cultures. On the use of sociocultural variables in home garden studies. In: Eyzaguirre PB, Linares O (eds) Home gardens and agrobiodiversity. Smithsonian books, Washington, pp 41–55Google Scholar
  59. Shall JJ, Pianka ER (1978) Geographical trends in number of species. Science 201(4357):679–686CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Sinsin B, Eyog Matig O, Assogbadjo AE, Gaoué OG, Sinadouwirou T (2004) Dendrometric characteristics as indicators of pressure of Afzelia africana Sm. trees dynamics in different climatic zones of Benin. Biodivers Conserv 13:1555–1570CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Sunwar S, Thornström CG, Subedi A, Bystrom M (2006) Home gardens in western Nepal: opportunities and challenges for on-farm management of agrobiodiversity. Biodivers Conserv 15:4211–4238CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. White F (1983) The vegetation of Africa, a descriptive memoir to accompany the UNESCO/AETFAT/UNSO UNESCO. Nat Resour Res 20:1–356Google Scholar
  63. Yongneng F, Huijun G, Aiguo C, Jinyun C (2006) Household differentiation and on-farm conservation of biodiversity by indigenous households in Xishuangbanna, China. Biodivers Conserv 15(2687):2703Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Valère Kolawolé Salako
    • 1
  • Belarmain Fandohan
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Barthélémy Kassa
    • 1
  • Achille Ephrem Assogbadjo
    • 1
  • Alix Franck Rodrigue Idohou
    • 1
  • Rodrigue Castro Gbedomon
    • 1
  • Sebastian Chakeredza
    • 3
  • Mohammad Ehsan Dulloo
    • 4
  • Romain Glele Kakaï
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratoire d’Ecologie Appliquée, Faculté des Sciences AgronomiquesUniversité d’Abomey-CalaviCotonouBenin
  2. 2.International Ecosystem Management Partnership (IEMP), United Nations Environment Programme, c/o Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources ResearchChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.ANAFENairobiKenya
  4. 4.Bioversity International, HeadquarterRomeItaly

Personalised recommendations