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Past and current forest fragmentation in the Democratic Republic of Congo: exploring ancient charcoal as a natural archive

Wannes Hubau UGent, Jan Van den Bulcke UGent, Joris Van Acker UGent and Hans Beeckman (2012) Islands in land- and seascape : the challenges of fragmentation.
abstract
Fossil pollen and charcoal fragments are preserved in lake sediments, in forest soils and in ancient human settlements were they can be accompanied by artifacts. As such, vegetation history is remarkably well archived and sometimes closely linked to cultural history. However, direct evidence for Central African vegetation history has been mainly derived from pollen analysis, although charcoal analysis is often spatially and taxonomically more precise than palynology. Charcoal analysis has proven worthwhile for palaeovegetation reconstructions in temperate regions and South America, but the charcoal archive in Central Africa has hardly been explored. Moreover, a transparent charcoal identification procedure based on extensive databases and well defined anatomical characteristics has never been developed. Therefore, we present a Central African charcoal identification protocol within an umbrella database of species names and metadata, compiled from an on-line database of wood-anatomical descriptions (InsideWood), the database of the world’s largest reference collection of Central African wood specimens (RMCA, Tervuren, Belgium) and inventory and indicator species lists (Hubau et al., accepted). We applied the protocol on charcoal fragments collected in a systematically excavated profile in the Mayumbe forest (DRCongo), a postulated forest refuge area. The charcoal identification results seem to suggest the existence of a forest-savanna mosaic pattern close to the Mayumbe forest boundary during the Holocene Cool period between 2500 and 2000 cal yr BP. Holocene forest regression and fragmentation is thought to be climate-driven. However, human disturbance became increasingly important throughout the Holocene, which might be the reason why the Mayumbe is currently still fragmented and characterized by large patches of savanna and secondary forest. Reference: Hubau, W., Van den Bulcke, J., Kitin, P., Mees, F., Van Acker, J. & Beeckman, H. (accepted). Charcoal identification in species-rich biomes: a protocol for Central Africa optimised for the Mayumbe forest. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology.
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
year
type
conference
publication status
published
subject
in
Islands in land- and seascape : the challenges of fragmentation
publisher
Gesellschaft für Tropenökologie (gtö)
conference name
Annual conference of the Society for Tropical Ecology : Islands in land- and seascape : the challenges of fragmentation
conference location
Erlangen, Germany
conference start
2012-05-22
conference end
2012-05-25
language
English
UGent publication?
yes
classification
C3
id
2963302
handle
http://hdl.handle.net/1854/LU-2963302
date created
2012-07-17 11:20:42
date last changed
2012-08-03 14:48:29
@inproceedings{2963302,
  abstract     = {Fossil pollen and charcoal fragments are preserved in lake sediments, in forest soils and in ancient human settlements were they can be accompanied by artifacts. As such, vegetation history is remarkably well archived and sometimes closely linked to cultural history. However, direct evidence for Central African vegetation history has been mainly derived from pollen analysis, although charcoal analysis is often spatially and taxonomically more precise than palynology. Charcoal analysis has proven worthwhile for palaeovegetation reconstructions in temperate regions and South America, but the charcoal archive in Central Africa has hardly been explored. Moreover, a transparent charcoal identification procedure based on extensive databases and well defined anatomical characteristics has never been developed. 
Therefore, we present a Central African charcoal identification protocol within an umbrella database of species names and metadata, compiled from an on-line database of wood-anatomical descriptions (InsideWood), the database of the world{\textquoteright}s largest reference collection of Central African wood specimens (RMCA, Tervuren, Belgium) and inventory and indicator species lists (Hubau et al., accepted). 
We applied the protocol on charcoal fragments collected in a systematically excavated profile in the Mayumbe forest (DRCongo), a postulated forest refuge area. The charcoal identification results seem to suggest the existence of a forest-savanna mosaic pattern close to the Mayumbe forest boundary during the Holocene Cool period between 2500 and 2000 cal yr BP. Holocene forest regression and fragmentation is thought to be climate-driven. However, human disturbance became increasingly important throughout the Holocene, which might be the reason why the Mayumbe is currently still fragmented and characterized by large patches of savanna and secondary forest.

Reference: Hubau, W., Van den Bulcke, J., Kitin, P., Mees, F., Van Acker, J. \& Beeckman, H. (accepted). Charcoal identification in species-rich biomes: a protocol for Central 
Africa optimised for the Mayumbe forest. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology.},
  author       = {Hubau, Wannes and Van den Bulcke, Jan and Van Acker, Joris and Beeckman, Hans},
  booktitle    = {Islands in land- and seascape : the challenges of fragmentation},
  language     = {eng},
  location     = {Erlangen, Germany},
  publisher    = {Gesellschaft f{\"u}r Tropen{\"o}kologie (gt{\"o})},
  title        = {Past and current forest fragmentation in the Democratic Republic of Congo: exploring ancient charcoal as a natural archive},
  year         = {2012},
}

Chicago
Hubau, Wannes, Jan Van den Bulcke, Joris Van Acker, and Hans Beeckman. 2012. “Past and Current Forest Fragmentation in the Democratic Republic of Congo: Exploring Ancient Charcoal as a Natural Archive.” In Islands in Land- and Seascape : the Challenges of Fragmentation. Gesellschaft für Tropenökologie (gtö).
APA
Hubau, W., Van den Bulcke, J., Van Acker, J., & Beeckman, H. (2012). Past and current forest fragmentation in the Democratic Republic of Congo: exploring ancient charcoal as a natural archive. Islands in land- and seascape : the challenges of fragmentation. Presented at the Annual conference of the Society for Tropical Ecology : Islands in land- and seascape : the challenges of fragmentation, Gesellschaft für Tropenökologie (gtö).
Vancouver
1.
Hubau W, Van den Bulcke J, Van Acker J, Beeckman H. Past and current forest fragmentation in the Democratic Republic of Congo: exploring ancient charcoal as a natural archive. Islands in land- and seascape : the challenges of fragmentation. Gesellschaft für Tropenökologie (gtö); 2012.
MLA
Hubau, Wannes, Jan Van den Bulcke, Joris Van Acker, et al. “Past and Current Forest Fragmentation in the Democratic Republic of Congo: Exploring Ancient Charcoal as a Natural Archive.” Islands in Land- and Seascape : the Challenges of Fragmentation. Gesellschaft für Tropenökologie (gtö), 2012. Print.