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Are soils under monodominant Gilbertiodendron dewevrei and under adjacent mixed forests similar? A case study in the Democratic Republic of Congo

  • Michel Lokonda (a1), Vincent Freycon (a2) (a3), Sylvie Gourlet-Fleury (a2) (a3) and Ferdinand Kombele (a1)


Soil has been proposed as a driver explaining the development of monodominant forests in the tropics, for example, Gilbertiodendron dewevrei forests (GDF) in central Africa. The aim of this study was to compare the physical and chemical properties of soils under GDF with those under an adjacent mixed forest (AMF), while controlling for topography. To this end, we set up sixteen 0.25-ha plots according to forest type and topography (plateau vs. bottomland), in the Yoko forest reserve, Democratic Republic of Congo. In each plot, we measured litter thickness and collected a total of 80 soil samples at depths of 0–5, 5–10, 10–20, 20–40 and 120–150 cm, for standard physical and chemical analyses. When controlling for topography and soil texture, we found that most of the chemical properties of soils under GDF did not differ from those of soils under AMF, particularly acidity, cation concentration, total N and the C:N ratio. The litter layer was 2.3 times thicker under GDF than under AMF stands, and, for a given texture, soils under GDF had a slightly higher organic C concentration in the 0–5 cm soil layer. This study suggests that G. dewevrei stands modify organic matter dynamics, which may be important in maintaining its monodominance.


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