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Distribution, Habitat Adaptation and Conservation as integral approach to protection of Anthocliesta species in Nigeria’s Niger Delta Landscape

The Niger Delta is a center of endemism for Africa and is the most extensive and lowland forest / aquatic ecosystem in West Africa. The area is undergoing conversion at a rapid rate. Investigation were carried out on the diversity and abundance of four commonly occurring species of the genus Anthocleista in Nigeria’s Niger Delta, Anthocleista djalonesis A. Chev; A. vogelii Planch; A. nobilis G. Don; and A. liebrechtsiana De Wild. All the species are found in the wild. Assessment of distribution indicated that the species are generally mesophytic in habitat requirements. Examination of morphological features and geographical distribution patterns indicated that the species are perennial trees with marked preference for tropical climates. Disparities in ecological habitat were found. Anthocleista djalonesis and A. nobilis show preference for both normal terrestrial (low land dry rainforest) and wetland (seasonally flooded) environments. Anthocleista vogelii shows a preference for normal terrestrial habitat while A. liebrechtsiana prefers wetland or semi aquatic habitats. Also Anthocliesta djalonesis, A. nobilis and A. vogelii are prevalent in lowland secondary rainforests while A. liebrechtsiana is prevalent in fresh water swamp forests. Anthocliesta leibrechtsiana seems to be a ‘habitat specialist’ showing a narrow niche and limited geographical distribution. The present study revealed declining abundance and distribution of Anthocliesta species. The lack of concise conservation programme in the regions threatens these species and other plant genetic resources with extinction. The study highlights the need to promote the development and conservation of these and other economically useful plant genetic resources.

Author(s): Edwin-Wosu, N.L., T. Omara-Achong and A. Nkang

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