Agroforestry Systems

, Volume 91, Issue 3, pp 527–540 | Cite as

Spatio-temporal dynamic of suitable areas for species conservation in West Africa: eight economically important wild palms under present and future climates

  • Rodrigue Idohou
  • Achille Ephrem Assogbadjo
  • Romain Glèlè Kakaï
  • A. Townsend Peterson


Sustainable conservation of tropical resources required understanding of their distribution for effective assessment and definition of conservation priorities. In tropical areas, wild palms are highly valued keystone resources with growing demand for both subsistence uses and commercial trade. Here we focused on eight such species (Borassus aethiopum Mart., Eremospatha macrocarpa (G.Mann & H.Wendl.) H.Wendl., Hyphaene thebaica Mart., Laccosperma opacum (G.Mann & H.Wendl.) Drude, Phoenix reclinata Jacq., Raphia hookeri G.Mann & H.Wendl., Raphia sudanica A. Chev., and Raphia vinifera P.Beauv.). This study tested (i) how those palms distributions may be affected under future climate scenarios, and (ii) if species are effectively conserved currently and under future forecasts for their native distributional areas. Finally, we defined spatial priorities for the species’ conservation. Available bioclimatic and soil data layers were used for the modelling with maximum entropy approaches, and resulting maps were overlaid on the existing protected areas network. Results showed that much of the distribution of the species will remain largely stable, albeit with some expansion and retraction in some species; relationships with protected areas networks suggest that protected portions of species distributions will also remain stable. The areas identified as highest conservation priority differ between models even though the highest-priority areas holding most palm species are located along the coast (from Guinea to Nigeria). Further development of these analyses could aid in forming a more complete picture of the distributions and populations of the species, which in turn could aid in developing effective conservation strategies for this botanically important family.


Biodiversity Ecological niche GIS Representative concentration pathways Zonation 



This research was supported by the University of Abomey-Calavi (Republic of Benin) through the WILD-PALM project and Idea Wild Foundation. We are grateful to Lindsay Campbell from Kansas University (USA), colleagues from the Laboratory of Applied Ecology for numerous debates and discussions, and two anonymous reviewers whose comments greatly improved the quality of the manuscript. We express our thanks to all data providers. The first author also thanks his fellows from the 16th Student Conference on Conservation Sciences (SCCS) for their valuable comments about this work.


  1. Akoègninou A, Van der Burg WJ, Van der Maesen LJG (2006) Flore analytique du Bénin. Blackhuys Publishers, Cotonou & WageningenGoogle Scholar
  2. Austin MP, Van Niel KP (2011) Improving species distribution models for climate change studies: variable selection and scale. J Biogeogr 38:1–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Balmford A, Albon S, Blakeman S (1992) Correlates of male mating success and female choice in a lek-breeding antelope. Behav Ecol 3:112–123CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barot S, Gignoux J (2003) Neighbourhood analysis in the savanna palm Borassus aethiopum: interplay of intraspecific competition and soil patchiness. J Veg Sci 14:79–88Google Scholar
  5. Barve N (2008) Tool for Partial-ROC ver 1.0, Biodiversity Institute, Lawrence, KS, USAGoogle Scholar
  6. Barve N, Barve V, Jiménez-Valverde A, Lira-Noriega A, Maher SP, Peterson AT, Soberón J, Villalobos F (2011) The crucial role of the accessible area in ecological niche modelling and species distribution modelling. Ecol Model 222:1810–1819CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Beck J (2013) Predicting climate change effects on agriculture from ecological niche modeling: who profits, who loses? Clim Change 116:177–189CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bjorholm S, Svenning J-C, Skov F, Balslev H (2008) To what extent does Tobler’s 1st law of geography apply to macroecology? A case study using American palms (Arecaceae). BMC Ecol 8:11CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  9. Blach-Overgaard A, Svenning J-C, Dransfield J, Greve M, Balslev H (2010) Determinants of palm species distributions across Africa: the relative roles of climate, non-climatic environmental factors, and spatial constraints. Ecography 33:380–391Google Scholar
  10. Boko M, Niang I, Nyong A, Vogel C (2007) Africa. Climate change 2007: impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. In: Canziani PML et al (eds) Contribution of working group II to the forth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  11. Breil M, Panitz H-J (2013) Regional Climate Simulations with COSMO-CLM for West Africa using different soil-vegetation-atmosphere-transfer module’s (SVAT’s). Geophys Res Abstr 15:1423Google Scholar
  12. Brokamp G, Valderrama N, Mittelbach M, Grandez RCA, Barfod AS, Weigend M (2011) Trade in palm products in north-western South America. Bot Rev 77:571–606CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Bruner AG, Gullison RE, Rice RE, Da Fonseca GA (2001) Effectiveness of parks in protecting tropical biodiversity. Science 291:125–128CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Burkill HM (1997) The useful plants of West Tropical Africa, 2nd edn, vol. 4. Families M–R. Royal Botanic Gardens, KewGoogle Scholar
  15. Byg A, Balslev H (2001) Diversity and use of palms in Zahamena, eastern Madagascar. Biodivers Conserv 10:951–970CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Cabral JS, Schurr FM (2010) Estimating demographic models for the range dynamics of plant species. Global Ecol Biogeogr 19:85–97CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Clerici N, Bodini A, Eva H, Grégoire JM, Dulieu D, Paolini C (2007) Increased isolation of two biosphere reserves and surrounding protected areas (WAP Ecological Complex, West Africa). J Nat Conserv 15:26–40CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Collen B, Ram M, Zamin T, McRae L (2008) The tropical biodiversity data gap: addressing disparity in global monitoring. Trop Conserv Science 1:75–88CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Cunningham AB, Milton SJ (1987) Effects of basket-weaving industry on Mokola Palm and dye plants in north-western Botswana. Econ Bot 41:386–402CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Dransfield J (1988) The palms of Africa and their relationships. In: Goldblatt P, Lowry PP (eds) Modern systematic studies in African botany. Missouri Botanical Garden Press, St. LouisGoogle Scholar
  21. Elith J, Kearney M, Phillips S (2010) The art of modeling range-shifting species. Methods Ecol Evol 1:330–342CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Engler R, Guisan A (2009) MigClim: predicting plant distribution and dispersal in a changing climate. Divers Distrib 15:590–601CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. FAO/IIASA/ISRIC/ISSCAS/JRC (2012) Harmonized World Soil Database (version 1.2). FAO, Rome, Italy and IIASA, Laxenburg, AustriaGoogle Scholar
  24. Faysse N, Errahj M, Imache A, Kemmoun H, Labbaci T (2014) Paving the way for social learning when governance is weak: supporting dialogue between stakeholders to face a groundwater crisis in Morocco. Soc Nat Res Int J 27:249–264CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Fielding AH, Bell JF (1997) A review of methods for the assessment of prediction errors in conservation presence/absence models. Environ Conserv 24:38–49CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Fitzpatrick MC, Hargrove WW (2009) The projection of species distribution models and the problem of non-analog climate. Biodivers Conserv 18:2255–2261CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Garcia RA, Burgess ND, Cabeza M, Rahbek C, Araújo MB (2012) Exploring consensus in 21st century projections of climatically suitable areas for African vertebrates. Global Change Biol 18:1253–1269CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Garcia RA, Cabeza M, Rahbek C, Araujo MB (2014) Multiple dimensions of climate change and their implications for biodiversity. Science 344:1247579CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Gentry AH (1988) Changes in plant community diversity and floristic composition on environmental and geographical gradients. Ann Missouri Bot Gard 75:1–34CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Good P, Jones C, Lowe J, Betts R, Gedney N (2013) Comparing tropical forest projections from two generations of Hadley centre earth system models, HADGEM-ES2-ES and HadCM3LC. J Clim 26:495–511CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Guisan A, Zimmermann NE (2000) Predictive habitat distribution models in ecology. Ecol Model 135:147–186CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Guisan A, Graham CH, Elith J, Huettmann F (2007) Sensitivity of predictive species distribution models to change in grain size. Divers Distrib 13:332–340CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Gyan CA, Shackleton CM (2005) Abundance and commercialization of Phoenix reclinata in the King Williamstown area, South Africa. J Trop For Sci 17:334–345Google Scholar
  34. Hannah L (2010) A global conservation system for climate-change adaptation. Conserv Biol 24:70–77CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Hawthorne W (1990) Field guide to the forest trees of Ghana. Natural Resources Institute, LondonGoogle Scholar
  36. Henderson GL, Le SQ, Beaumont TG, James TDI (1997) U.S. Patent No. D383, 756. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark OfficeGoogle Scholar
  37. Hijmans RJ, Cameron SE, Parra JL, Jones PG, Jarvis A (2005) Very high resolution interpolated climate surfaces for global land areas. Int J Climatol 25:1965–1978CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Houehanou TD, Assogbadjo AE, Glèlè Kakaï R, Kyndt T, Houinato M, Sinsin B (2013) How far a protected area contributes to conserve habitat species composition and population structure of endangered African tree species (Benin, West Africa). Ecol Complex 13:60–68CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Hunter M Jr, Dinerstein E, Hoekstra J, Lindenmayer D (2010) A call to action for conserving biological diversity in the face of climate change. Conserv Biol 24:1169–1171CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. Joyal A, Deshaies L (1996) Développement local et PME québécoises innovantes: un lieu à explorer. Can J Reg Sci 19:333–348Google Scholar
  41. Kot M, Lewis MA, van den Driessche P (1996) Dispersal data and the spread of invading organisms. Ecology 77:2027–2042CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Kouassi KI, Barot S, Gignoux J, Bi IAZ (2008) Demography and life history of two rattan species, Eremospatha macrocarpa and Laccosperma secundiflorum, in Côte d’Ivoire. J Trop Ecol 24:493–503CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Lobo JM, Jiménez-Valverde A, Real R (2008) AUC: a misleading measure of the performance of predictive distribution models. Global Ecol Biogeogr 17:145–151CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Locke H, Dearden P (2005) Rethinking protected area categories and the new paradigm. Environ Conserv 32:1–10CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Macía MJ (2004) Multiplicity in palm uses by the Huaorani of Amazonian Ecuador. Bot J Linn Soc 144:149–159CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Marinho MWS, Costa AA, Sales DC, Guimarães SO, da Silva EM, Júnior FCV (2013) Simulated extreme precipitation indices over Northeast Brasil in current climate and future scenarios RCP4.5 and RCP8.5. Geophys Res Abstr 15:12909Google Scholar
  47. Marshall AR, Platts PJ, Gereau RE, Kindeketa W, Kang’ethe S, Marchant R (2012) The genus Acacia (Fabaceae) in East Africa: distribution, diversity and the protected area network. Plant Ecol Evol 145:289–301CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Moss RH, Edmonds JA, Hibbard KA, Manning MR, Rose SK, Van Vuuren DP, Carter TR, Emori S, Kainuma M, Kram T, Meehl GA, Mitchell JFB, Nakicenovic N, Riahi K, Smith SJ, Stouffer RJ, Thomson AM, Weyant JP, Wilbanks TJ (2010) The next generation of scenarios for climate change research and assessment. Nature 463:747–756CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. Norris K, Asase A, Collen B, Gockowksi J, Mason J, Phalan B, Wade A (2010) Biodiversity in a forest-agriculture mosaic—the changing face of West African rainforests. Biol Conserv 143:2341–2350CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Nur N, Jahncke J, Herzog MP, Howar J, Hyrenbach KD, Zamon JE, Ainley DG, Wiens JA, Morgan K, Ballance LT, Stralberg D (2011) Where the wild things are: predicting hotspots of seabird aggregations in the California current system. Ecol Appl 21:2241–2257CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  51. Owens HL, Bentley AC, Peterson AT (2012) Predicting suitable environments and potential occurrences for coelacanths (Latimeria spp.). Biodivers Conserv 21:577–587CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Panitz H-J, Schubert-Frisius M, Meier-Fleischer K, Lenzen P, Legutke S, Keuler K, Luethi D, Lettenbauer A, Dosio A (2013) CORDEX climate simulations for Africa using COSMO-CLM (CCLM). Geophys Res Abstr 15:1387Google Scholar
  53. Papeş M, Gaubert P (2007) Modelling ecological niches from low numbers of occurrences: assessment of the conservation status of poorly known viverrids (Mammalia, Carnivora) across two continents. Divers Distrib 13:890–902CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Parviainen M, Luoto M, Ryttäri T, Heikkinen RK (2008) Modelling the occurrence of threatened plant species in taiga landscapes: methodological and ecological perspectives. J Biogeogr 35:1888–1905CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Pearson RG, Dawson TP (2003) Predicting the impacts of climate change on the distribution of species: are bioclimate envelope models useful? Global Ecol Biogeogr 12:361–371CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Pearson RG, Raxworthy CJ, Nakamura M, Peterson AT (2007) Predicting species distributions from small numbers of occurrence records: a test case using cryptic geckos in Madagascar. J Biogeogr 34:102–117CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Peterson AT, Papes M, Eaton M (2007) Transferability and model evaluation in ecological niche modelling: a comparison of GARP and Maxent. Ecography 30:550–560CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Peterson AT, Papes M, Soberon J (2008) Rethinking receiver operating characteristic analysis applications in ecological niche modeling. Ecol Model 213:63–72CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Peterson AT, Soberón J, Pearson RG, Anderson RP, Martínez-Meyer E, Nakamura M, Araújo MB (2011) Ecological niches and geographic distributions. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  60. Phillips SJ, Anderson RP, Schapire RE (2006) Maximum entropy modelling of species geographic distributions. Ecol Model 190:231–259CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Phillips SJ, Dudik M, Elith J, Graham C, Lehmann A, Leathwick J, Ferrier S (2009) Sample selection bias and presence-only distribution models: implications for background and pseudo-absence data. Ecol Appl 19:181–197CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  62. Purseglove JW (1972) Tropical crops. Monocotyledons, vol. 2. Longman, London, United KingdomGoogle Scholar
  63. Salm R, Salles NVD, Alonso WJ, Schuck-Paim C (2007) Cross-scale determinants of palm species distribution. Acta Amazonica 37:17–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Sanchez AC, Osborne PE, Haq N (2010) Identifying the global potential for baobab tree cultivation using ecological niche modelling. Agrofor Syst 80:191–201CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Saupe EE, Barve V, Myers CE, Soberón J, Barve N, Hensz CM, Lira-Noriega A (2012) Variation in niche and distribution model performance: the need for a priori assessment of key causal factors. Ecol Model 237:11–22CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Scoones I (1995) Exploiting heterogeneity: habitat use by cattle in dryland Zimbabwe. J Arid Environ 29:221–237CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Sosnowska J, Balslev H (2009) American palm ethnomedicine: a meta-analysis. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed 5:43CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  68. Syfert MM, Smith MJ, Coomes DA (2013) The effects of sampling bias and model complexity on the predictive performance of MaxEnt species distribution models. PLoS ONE 8(2):e55158CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  69. Tuley P (1995) The palms of Africa. Trendrine Press, ZennorGoogle Scholar
  70. van Vuuren DP, Carter TR (2014) Climate and socio-economic scenarios for climate change research and assessment: reconciling the new with the old. Clim Change 122:415–429CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. van Vuuren PD, Edmonds J, Kainuma M, Riahi K, Thomson A, Hibbard K, Hurtt GC, Kram T, Krey V, Lamarque J-F, Masui T, Meinshausen M, Nakicenovic N, Smith SJ, Rose SK (2011) The representative concentration pathways: an overview. Clim Change 109:5–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Vellak A, Tuvi E, Reier U, Kalamees R, Roosaluste E, Zobel M, Partel M (2009) Past and present effectiveness of protected areas for conservation of naturally and anthropogenically rare plant species. Conserv Biol 23:750–757CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  73. Walther GR, Gritti ES, Berger S, Hickler T, Tang Z, Sykes MT (2007) Palms tracking climate change. Global Ecol Biogeogr 16:801–809CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Wu M, Smith B, Schurgers G, Lindström J, Rummukainen M, Samuelsson P (2013) Vegetation-climate feedback causes reduced precipitation in CMIP5 regional Earth system model simulation over Africa. Geophys Res Abstr 15:3281Google Scholar
  75. Zona S, Henderson A (1989) A review of animal-mediated seed dispersal of palms. Selbyana, pp 6–21Google Scholar
  76. Zurell D, Jeltsch F, Dormann CF, Schröder B (2009) Static species distribution models in dynamically changing systems: how good can predictions really be? Ecography 32:733–744CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Zuur AF, Ieno EN, Elphick CS (2010) A protocol for data exploration to avoid common statistical problems. Methods Ecol Evol 1:3–14CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rodrigue Idohou
    • 1
  • Achille Ephrem Assogbadjo
    • 2
  • Romain Glèlè Kakaï
    • 1
    • 2
  • A. Townsend Peterson
    • 3
  1. 1.Laboratory of Biomathematics and Forest Estimations, Faculty of Agronomic ScienceUniversity of Abomey-CalaviCotonouBenin
  2. 2.Laboratory of Applied Ecology, Faculty of Agronomic SciencesUniversity of Abomey-CalaviCotonouBenin
  3. 3.University of KansasLawrenceUSA

Personalised recommendations