Spatial distribution and interspecific association patterns between Mansonia altissima A. Chev., Ceiba pentandra (L.) Gaertn and Triplochiton scleroxylon K. Schum. in a moist semi-deciduous forest

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Key message

Mansonia altissima A. Chev. has an aggregated distribution at the juvenile life stage that becomes random at the mature life stage. Ceiba pentandra (L.) Gaertn could play the role of nurse plant in the management of M. altissima populations providing them a moderate forest shade in large gaps for early growth. M. altissima and Triplochiton scleroxylon K. Schum. displayed independent distribution patterns.


M. altissima is a species with economic value found in moist semi-deciduous forests of tropical Africa. The analysis of spatial distribution patterns can help to understand the ecology of this species in forest stands dominated by emergent pioneer tree species like C. pentandra and T. scleroxylon.


To assess the spatial distribution patterns of M. altissima and spatial relationships with C. pentandra and T. scleroxylon in their natural habitat.


We investigated the spatial patterns of the three species during three life stages; juvenile (immature trees), premature (trees with minimum flowering diameter) and mature (trees with minimum fruiting diameter). Diameter at breast height (DBH) was measured and geographical coordinates of trees were recorded within ten one-ha plots, divided into sixteen subplots (625 m2). We computed the L(r) function, normalized from Ripley’s K(r) function to detect aggregated, random or regular distribution patterns.


Aggregations were detected in juvenile and premature M. altissima. Size and scales of spatial aggregation were inversely proportional to the DBH size. M. altissima and C. pentandra displayed interspecific association patterns at the similar life stages. Both species were positively associated within a radius ≥ 3 m. No positive association was detected between M. altissima and T. scleroxylon.


Interspecific association patterns between M. altissima and C. pentandra suggest that C. pentandra could be used as a nurse tree in reforestation and management practices of M. altissima populations.

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Data availability

The datasets generated and/or analyzed during the current study together with the associated metadata are available in the Advanced Ecological Knowledge and Observation System (AEKOS) portal (Wédjangnon et al. 2019) at


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This paper is based on the PhD thesis of the corresponding author, written as partial fulfillment for the PhD degree in Natural Resources Management at University of Parakou, Benin. The authors are grateful to all scientists from Laboratoire d’Etudes et de Recherches Forestières who contributed to this study. They are grateful to the anonymous reviewers whom strongly contributed to improve the quality of this paper. This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

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Correspondence to Adigla Appolinaire Wédjangnon.

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Contributions of the co-authors

N. Bienvenue Kuiga Sourou and Towanou Houêtchégnon have contributed to install the plots and to data collection in the forest and to database management. Christine A. I. N. Ouinsavi has supervised the work (data collection and analysis), review of drafts and manuscript improvements.

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Wédjangnon, A.A., Sourou Kuiga, N.B., Houêtchégnon, T. et al. Spatial distribution and interspecific association patterns between Mansonia altissima A. Chev., Ceiba pentandra (L.) Gaertn and Triplochiton scleroxylon K. Schum. in a moist semi-deciduous forest. Annals of Forest Science 77, 6 (2020) doi:10.1007/s13595-019-0913-0

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  • Life stages
  • Spatial distributions
  • Ripley’s L-function
  • Mansonia altissima
  • Ceiba pentandra
  • Triplochiton scleroxylon