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Zonation of forest vegetation and soils of Mount Cameroon, West Africa

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Robert Payton


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Mount Cameroon is an active volcano in a wet part of West Africa. The forest vegetation and associated soils on its southern slopes were studied in 1989, 1991 and 1995 in coupled 0.25 ha plots at altitudes of 180, 600, 1,100, 1,800 and 2,180 m. All lianas and trees >10 cm dbh were enumerated and their structural features quantified. The forests were of large stature throughout. The strangling Schefflera species made a substantial contribution to the very high basal areas at 1,800 m. The associated soils were dominated by andisols derived from volcanic ash that showed a distinct increase with altitude in soil organic matter and total N attributed to lower temperatures. Soil pH, exchangeable K+, Ca2+, Mg2+, effective cation-exchange capacity and percentage base saturation showed very marked increases explained by the influence of recent volcanic ashfalls. Available N and P showed less distinct trends with altitude. Although there is a large decrease in tree species richness with altitude, forest stand growth (as compared on a basal area basis) does not appear to be limited by soil fertility or temperature. The forest line (altitude treeline and extensive gaps below it) appear to be controlled by periodic volcanic activity, ashfalls and lava flows, which can destroy existing forest through soil burial and fire effects and inhibit regrowth on bare lava flows and deep deposits of volcanic ash. © 2007 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Proctor J, Edwards ID, Payton RW, Nagy L

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Plant Ecology

Year: 2007

Volume: 192

Issue: 2

Pages: 251-269

ISSN (print): 1385-0237

ISSN (electronic): 1573-5052

Publisher: Springer Netherlands


DOI: 10.1007/s11258-007-9326-5


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