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Influence of anthropogenic disturbance on the diversity of flora and vegetation of Cyamudongo rainforest, the adjacent forestry plots and the Western Nyungwe main forest block

  • Human population pressure increased with the population growth around the NNP and Cyamudongo with disturbance impacts on the forests isolating populations into fragments and today, Cyamudongo natural forest is located a way at a distance of at least 8.5 km horizontal distance to Nyungwe main block with a surface area estimated at 300 ha. Under Cyamudongo project implementation, there was a need to understand how the flora diversity responded to human imposed challenges and to forest restoration initiatives. Three physiognomic landscapes forest were identified and considered for three phases of vegetation survey in Cyamudongo and related to the closest area of Nyungwe main block. In this study, 15 transects were laid in each physiognomic forest landscape and 10 and 5 plots were set respectively in Cyamudongo and Gasumo study area. In total, 315 phytosociological relevés were performed and the Braun-Blanquet methods used for three times vegetation surveys. Species life-forms and chorophyte were evaluated and tree species dbh and height have been measured. Data were subjected to different statistical analyses using different softwares such as PAST, R 3.5.2, and SPSS. The mapping was done using Arc GIS and the Multi-Spectral Remote Sensing used to find NDVI for the vegetation classification. NDVI trends showed that there has been fluctuations in vegetation classifications of the studied area. In this study, 494 vascular plant species from 106 families were harbored in the study area and distributed differently among forest landscapes and study phases. Although, 43.54% were common to Cyamudongo and Gasumo landscapes while 48.54 % of species diversity were hold only by Cyamudongo and 7.92% confined to Gasumo and 12 in total were found new records for Rwanda while several others suspected require detailed research for identification showing how the flora diversity of Cyamudongo is of special interest and extremely important for discoveries. The finding of the study on diversity indices, the PCA, CA and the Cluster analysis, all statistical analyses (MANOVA, ANOVA) and life form spectra unanimously showed that the anthropogenic disturbance shaped the vegetation cover, the floristic composition, the species diversity, the forest landscapes community structure, the life form spectrum and the phytoclimate of Cyamudongo and Gasumo forest landscapes. Although, the vegetation analysis couldn’t clearly identify communities and sub-communities at the initial and final vegetation surveys and cluster groups were heterogeneous as well as overlapping and species associations not clearly defined due to the high level of similarities in species composition among forest landscapes and vegetation surveys. The species diversity was found high in secondary forest and Gasumo landscape forest and low in the primary forest and the buffer zone of Cyamudongo and the disturbance with gaps openings was found to be associated to the species diversity with a seasonal variation. The patterns of dbh for the buffer zone and of the size classes of all landscapes with an inverted ‘J’ indicated a healthy regeneration in the forest landscapes and tree species explained a good regeneration and recruitment capacity. Different shapes in the pattern of dbh with respectively an inverted ‘J’, ‘J ‘and ‘U’ for the buffer zone, primary and together the secondary and Gasumo forest landscapes indicated differences in the landscapes health and degree of regeneration and recruitment capacity. Findings from differents measuements showed at which extend human activities have shaped the flora diversity and structure of forest landcapes studied. For instance, disturbances due human activities were daily oberved and trees were logged by neighboring communities such as Batwa populations at Cyamudongo and local populations at Gasumo. Some species were evenly observed targeted for their barks such as Ocotea usambarensis, Parinari excelsa for medicines and many others for their wood quality, fire wood collection and for agricultural purposes. In the period of Cyamudongo project implementation, important achievements included the increase of forest biomass and therefore the photosynthetic capacity and the evapotranspiration potential that influence the rainfall regime; the regulation of weather conditions and then species diversity; supporting local communities and limiting human activities; raising awareness on conservation and protection of biodiversity and improving of living conditions of neighboring populations by providing paid employment and so to restore to the Cyamudongo forest ecosystem functions. Moreover, Cyamudongo forest remains vulnerable as surrounded by local communities with a high population pressure relying on forest resources for its survival. Cyamudongo harbors a high level of endemism and is a small hotspot for biodiversity conservation. It is therefore recommended to strengthen conservation and protection measures and continue the support of local communities.

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Author:Aimable Nsanzurwimo
Referee:Eberhard Fischer, Wilhelm Barthlott
Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
Date of completion:2021/11/16
Date of publication:2021/11/19
Publishing institution:Universität Koblenz, Universitätsbibliothek
Granting institution:Universität Koblenz, Fachbereich 3
Date of final exam:2021/11/11
Release Date:2021/11/19
Number of pages:xii, 223
Institutes:Fachbereich 3 / Institut für Integrierte Naturwissenschaften / Institut für Integrierte Naturwissenschaften, Abt. Biologie
Licence (German):License LogoEs gilt das deutsche Urheberrecht: § 53 UrhG