Ecological Drivers of Ecosystem Diversity in Sahelian Rangeland of Niger

Document Type : Research and Full Length Article


1 Faculté des Sciences Agronomiques, Université de Diffa

2 Faculty of Agronomic, University of Diffa, Niger

3 Faculty of Agronomic Sciences, University of Niamey, Niger

4 Faculty of Science and Technology, University of Niamey, Niger


Description of vegetation patterns associated with environmental factors such as grazing, climate, landforms, substrate variables etc. are helpful for land management planning. This study used new synecological tools to investigate plants composition and to provide ecological descriptions of plants communities of communal pastures in Sahelian Ecological Zone of Niger. Vegetation and several environmental variables were recorded in 197 plots using the Braun-Blanquet cover-abundance scale. A composite soil sample of about 1 kg from each plot was collected for analysis.A total of 252 species were recorded, belonging to 148 genera from 47 families, in which the angiosperms families counting 251 species are more represented and the pteridophytes are represented by one species belonging to the family of Marsileaceae. Poaceae, Leguminosae-Papilionoideae, Convolvulaceae, Cyperaceae and Leguminosae-Mimosoideae are the largest families. High abundance of the Poaceae species reveal the great potential forage value of the Sahelian rangelands. Most of the plants species are Therophytes and widely distributed elements in the tropics, revealing therefore an arid environment with great potential forage value under high disturbance, accordingly poorly managed. Arid ecosystems under heavy disturbance are susceptible to desertification. Nine pasture vegetation communities have been discriminated, distributing along the environmental gradient. Significant abiotic factors of plants distribution and their assemblage to form communities are geomorphology, total alkalinity, magnesium, phosphorous total and the cationic exchange capacity. Significant factors as well as sand, clay, silt, calcium, organic carbon, available phosphorous contents and plants compositionvaried differently with the definite plants communities. Plants communities under depression have great amounts of moisture and soil factors of soil fertility, therefore more resilient. Likely, plants communities located on sandy plains and dunes slopes or summits are more vulnerable to desertification than those located in fertile depression with great water contents.


Main Subjects

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