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Aleman J.,Center for Bio Archeology and Ecology | Leys B.,Center for Bio Archeology and Ecology | Apema R.,University of Bangui | Bentaleb I.,Montpellier University | And 9 more authors.
Journal of Vegetation Science | Year: 2012

Aim: To calibrate a model of the relationship between bio-proxies (pollen, phytoliths and δ 13C of soil organic matter) and woody cover, measured as the leaf area index (LAI). This relationship, applied in palaeosequences, enables reconstruction of past savanna tree cover. Location: The samples are from tropical Africa. Modern soil samples are from the Central African Republic and past samples are from sediments of lakes in Senegal and Congo. Methods: We analysed the pollen and phytolith content and stable carbon isotope values of 17 soil samples taken from three short transects in the Central African Republic; LAI was measured on the same transects. The indices used were the AP/NAP ratio of arboreal (AP) to non-arboreal (NAP) pollen, the D/P ratio of ligneous dicotyledons (D) to Poaceae (P) phytoliths, and the δ 13C of soil organic matter, i.e. the 13C/ 12C ratio. Results: A multi-proxy model was calibrated. The best model included only a combination of pollen and phytolith as proxies, excluding organic matter δ 13C because of its long mean residence time in the soil. The model was then applied to two palaeosequences in Africa, and a time series of relative LAI changes was obtained, providing new information about vegetation changes. Conclusion: This model can be applied in palaeosequences to reconstruct relative time series of LAI in African savannas and can help interpret vegetation changes quantitatively. This approach is complementary to the description of pollen and phytolith assemblages. © 2011 International Association for Vegetation Science.

Paupy C.,IRD Montpellier | Paupy C.,Center International Of Recherches Medicales Of Franceville Cirmf | Makanga B.,Center International Of Recherches Medicales Of Franceville Cirmf | Makanga B.,Institute Of Recherche En Ecologie Tropicale | And 10 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

During the last four years, knowledge about the diversity of Plasmodium species in African great apes has considerably increased. Several new species were described in chimpanzees and gorillas, and some species that were previously considered as strictly of human interest were found to be infecting African apes. The description in gorillas of P. praefalciparum, the closest relative of P. falciparum which is the main malignant agent of human malaria, definitively changed the way we understand the evolution and origin of P. falciparum. This parasite is now considered to have appeared recently, following a cross-species transfer from gorillas to humans. However, the Plasmodium vector mosquito species that have served as bridge between these two host species remain unknown. In order to identify the vectors that ensure ape Plasmodium transmission and evaluate the risk of transfer of these parasites to humans, we carried out a field study in Gabon to capture Anopheles in areas where wild and semi-wild ape populations live. We collected 1070 Anopheles females belonging to 15 species, among which An. carnevalei, An. moucheti and An. marshallii were the most common species. Using mtDNA-based PCR tools, we discovered that An. moucheti, a major human malaria vector in Central Africa, could also ensure the natural transmission of P. praefalciparum among great apes. We also showed that, together with An. vinckei, An. moucheti was infected with P. vivax-like parasites. An. moucheti constitutes, therefore, a major candidate for the transfer of Plasmodium parasites from apes to humans. © 2013 Paupy et al.

Schuttler S.G.,University of Missouri | Philbrick J.A.,University of Missouri | Jeffery K.J.,Agence Nationale des Parcs Nationaux | Jeffery K.J.,University of Stirling | And 2 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2014

Spatial patterns of relatedness within animal populations are important in the evolution of mating and social systems, and have the potential to reveal information on species that are difficult to observe in the wild. This study examines the fine-scale genetic structure and connectivity of groups within African forest elephants, Loxodonta cyclotis, which are often difficult to observe due to forest habitat. We tested the hypothesis that genetic similarity will decline with increasing geographic distance, as we expect kin to be in closer proximity, using spatial autocorrelation analyses and Tau Kr tests. Associations between individuals were investigated through a non-invasive genetic capture-recapture approach using network models, and were predicted to be more extensive than the small groups found in observational studies, similar to fission-fusion sociality found in African savanna (Loxodonta africana) and Asian (Elephas maximus) species. Dung samples were collected in Lopé National Park, Gabon in 2008 and 2010 and genotyped at 10 microsatellite loci, genetically sexed, and sequenced at the mitochondrial DNA control region. We conducted analyses on samples collected at three different temporal scales: a day, within six-day sampling sessions, and within each year. Spatial autocorrelation and Tau Kr tests revealed genetic structure, but results were weak and inconsistent between sampling sessions. Positive spatial autocorrelation was found in distance classes of 0-5 km, and was strongest for the single day session. Despite weak genetic structure, individuals within groups were significantly more related to each other than to individuals between groups. Social networks revealed some components to have large, extensive groups of up to 22 individuals, and most groups were composed of individuals of the same matriline. Although fine-scale population genetic structure was weak, forest elephants are typically found in groups consisting of kin and based on matrilines, with some individuals having more associates than observed from group sizes alone. © 2014 Schuttler et al.

Van der Hoek Y.,City University of New York | Van der Hoek Y.,CUNY - College of Staten Island | Lustenhouwer I.,Wageningen University | Jeffery K.J.,British Petroleum | And 3 more authors.
African Journal of Ecology | Year: 2013

Seasonality and management are factors that may affect the diet selection of the forest buffalo (Syncerus caffer nanus). Fire is considered a major driving force in savannah systems and prescribed burning is a commonly applied conservation tool in protected areas such as Lopé National Park, Gabon. Prescribed annual fires contribute to the maintenance of open areas and provide high-quality forage for forest buffalo, a major herbivore in the park. We used microhistological faecal analysis to determine the diet selection of forest buffalo and measured the extent of variation between a dry season, preburn and a wet season, postburn sampling period. The buffalo diet comprised mainly of monocotyledons, primarily grasses (Poaceae) and sedges (Cyperaceae). Intake of open-area-associated plant species was higher in the wet season, postburn treatment sampling period (97%) than the dry season, preburn sampling period (87%), which corresponded conversely to a reduction in forest-associated Marantaceae plants (10% versus 1%). High proportions of grasses and sedges in the diet signify the importance of open areas for forest buffalo. Controlled burning as tool for maintenance of open areas may play a key role in the meta-population management of the forest buffalo. © 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Inoue E.,Kyoto University | Akomo-Okoue E.F.,Kyoto University | Akomo-Okoue E.F.,Institute Of Recherche En Ecologie Tropicale | Ando C.,Kyoto University | And 7 more authors.
American Journal of Physical Anthropology | Year: 2013

The male dispersal patterns of western lowland gorillas (WLGs, Gorilla gorilla gorilla) are not well understood. To determine whether most silverbacks stay close to their relatives, we analyzed autosomal and Y-chromosomal microsatellites (STRs) in wild WLGs at Moukalaba, Gabon. We obtained STR genotypes for 38 individuals, including eight silverbacks and 12 adult females in an approximately 40 km2 area. Among them, 20 individuals were members of one identified group (Group Gentil; GG), including one silverback and six adult females. The silverback sired all 13 of the offspring in GG and no Y-STR polymorphism within GG was found, as expected in a one-male group structure. Over all silverbacks sampled, Y-STR diversity was high considering the limited sampling area, and silverbacks with similar Y-STR haplotypes were not always located in nearby areas. Although the misclassification rate of kinship estimates in this study was not negligible, there were no kin dyads among all silverbacks sampled. These results suggest that silverbacks born in the same group do not stay close to each other after maturation. The Y-STR diversity in this study was similar to that of a previous study conducted in an area that was approximately 150 times larger than our study area. Similarity of WLG Y-STR diversity between studies at different sampling scales suggests that male gene flow may not be geographically limited. These results suggest that WLG males normally disperse from their natal areas after maturation, at least, in Moukalaba. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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