Impacts of land use types on spatial patterns and neighbourhood distance of the agroforestry palm Borassus aethiopum Mart. in two climatic regions in Benin, West Africa

  • Valère Kolawolé SalakoEmail author
  • Christel Kénou
  • Kasso Dainou
  • Achille Ephrem Assogbadjo
  • Romain Glèlè Kakaï


Spatial pattern (SP) and neighbourhood distance (ND) of trees are crucial for pollination services, in particular for dioecious species. However, land use types through human disturbances may affect the natural SP and ND and possibly have a negative effect on pollination services. Though several studies have focused on the effect of land use types on SP of trees, few have reported on ND. In this study, we compared SP and ND of the dioecious Borassus aethiopum Mart. between two land use types (protected areas vs farmlands) in two contrasting climatic regions (semi-arid vs sub-humid) in Benin. Trees were mapped in twelve plots from six populations. Pair-correlation function was used to generate univariate and bivariate SP and ND. Next, ANOVA was used to compare ND. While supporting the overall trend towards a less aggregated pattern along plant life-cycle, the study showed that the SP of B. aethiopum was altered from aggregated and spatial association in protected areas toward random and independence patterns in farmlands with increased ND among individuals, particularly between adult males and females. In addition, differences in ND between land use types varied across climatic regions, the differences being higher in the drier semi-arid region, thus suggesting more intense human activities in this region and climatic region-specific management. Management actions should mainly aim at reducing or not further increasing ND, particularly between female and male adult populations in farmlands in the semi-arid region through planting new individuals of B. aethiopum trees or limiting their removal but at the same time account for other tree species to maximise diversity of farmlands’ functions and services. Further studies should examine whether the observed increased ND due to human-disturbances in farmlands is detrimental for the species pollination services, fruit production and whether it affects the species spatio-temporal population genetic structuring.


Climatic conditions Anthropogenic pressure Impacts Spatial pattern Point pattern process 



This research was supported by the International Foundation for Science, Stockholm, Sweden through a grant to Valère K. Salako (No D/5448-1). We also benefited from a PhD research fellow of the University of Abomey-Calavi under the project “WILD-PALM”. The authors are very grateful to the local people, especially women collectors and sellers of fruits and young shoots of B. aethiopum for their kind assistance, to Mélain Anago and Pathmos Akouété for field assistance.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratoire de Biomathématiques et d’Estimations ForestièresFaculté des Sciences Agronomiques, Université d’Abomey-CalaviCotonouBenin
  2. 2.Unité de Gestion des Ressources Forestières et des Milieux Naturels, Laboratoire de Foresterie des Régions Tropicales et SubtropicalesUniversité de Liège - Gembloux Agro-Bio TechGemblouxBelgium
  3. 3.Université Nationale d’AgricultureKétouBenin

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