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Climate and potential habitat suitability for cultivation and in situ conservation of the black plum (Vitex doniana Sweet) in Benin, West Africa

By: Achille Hounkpèvi, Félicien Tosso, Dossou Sèblodo Judes Charlemagne Gbèmavo, Edouard Konan Kouassi, Daouda Koné, Romain Glèlè Kakaï

Key Words: Climatic envelope, MaxEnt, Species distribution modelling, Representation gap analysis, Vitex doniana.

Int. J. Agr. Agri. Res. 8(4), 67-80, April 2016.

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Sustainable management actions are needed for several indigenous agro forestry plant species like the black plum (Vitex doniana Sweet) because they are facing increasing pressures due to the rapid human growth and threats such as climate change. By combining species distribution modelling using the Maximum Entropy Algorithm (Max Ent) and representation gap analysis, this study accessed the impacts of current and future (2050) climates on the potential distribution of Vitex doniana in Benin with insight on the protected areas network (PAN). The model showed a high goodness-of-fit (AUC = 0.92 ± 0.02) and a very good predictive power (TSS = 0.72 ± 0.01). Our findings indicated annual mean rainfall, annual mean diurnal range of temperature and mean temperature of the driest quarter as the most important predictors driving the distribution of V. doniana. Under current climate, about 85 % of Benin area is potentially suitable for its cultivation. This potential suitable area is projected to increase by 3 to 12 % under future climatic conditions. A large proportion (76.28 %) of the national PAN was reported as potentially suitable for the conservation of the species under current climate with increase projections of 14 to 23 % under future climate. The study showed that V. doniana can be cultivated in several areas of Benin and that the PAN is potentially suitable for its conservation. These findings highlighted some of the opportunities of integrating V. doniana in the formal production systems of Benin and also its potentialities in ecosystems restoration under the changing climate.

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