A multivariate approach to identify vegetation belts: Gallery forest and its surrounding savanna along the river Kota in north Benin

Jonas V. Müller, Robert Sieglstetter, Péter Csontos

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2 Citations (Scopus)


The floristic composition and spatial structure of a West African riverine forest in north-western Benin were studied in order to identify vegetation zones and their arrangement and composition. Data were collected on five continuous belt transects and were analysed using multivariate methods. A total of 133 tree taxa from 34 plant families were identified, with Rubiaceae and Leguminosae-Papilionoideae as the most frequent families. Fifteen homogeneous transect sections were documented. Near-river sections were dominated by water-demanding species (Syzygium guineense, Garcinia ovalifolia, Berlinia grandiflora, Breonardia salicina) (=gallery forest), whereas uphill sections were characterised by savanna species (Terminalia laxiflora, Hymenocardia acida, Detarium microcarpum, Burkea africana) (= savanna). The shift from gallery forest to savanna was reflected by a floristic turnover and the different physiognomy of the vegetation, although diversity values for gallery forest and savanna were very similar. In the Principal Co-ordinates Analysis (PCoA), gallery forest and savanna sections did not overlap. Parallel sections at both sides of the river could be linked by isolines following the topography parallel to the river, resulting in a continuous gallery forest belt (width between 10 and 30 m) flanked by savanna. Tree species typical for gallery forests have wider areas of distribution than savanna species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)878-888
Number of pages11
JournalPlant Biosystems
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2012



  • Cluster analysis
  • Principal Co-ordinates Analysis
  • floristic composition
  • importance analysis
  • importance value
  • riverine forest
  • transect sampling
  • vegetation zonation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Plant Science

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