Structure and composition of the liana assemblage of a mixed rainforest in the Congo Basin

C.E.N. Ewango, F. Bongers, J.R. Makana, L. Poorter, M.S.M. Sosef*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Background and aims – The Congo Basin lowland forest represents one of the largest tropical forest blocks in the world, but its liana assemblage has never been characterized. We evaluate liana floristics, diversity, and structure in the Ituri Forest, and determine the effects of forest structure and edaphic variation on liana species composition. Methods – Two permanent 10-ha plots (200 × 500 m), 500 m apart, were established in mixed forest. All liana individuals = 2 cm dbh were identified, measured, mapped, and marked. For 20 × 20 m subplots we distinguished terra firme and swamp, and we estimated canopy openness. Key results – The combined 20-ha area contains 15,008 lianas (dbh = 2 cm) representing 195 species, 83 genera, and 34 families. Per hectare, species number averaged 64, mean basal area was 0.71 m2 and mean Fisher's alpha, Shannon index, and Simpson diversity index values were 17.9, 3.1 and 11.4, respectively. Ten dominant plant families represented 69% of total species richness, 92% of liana abundance and 92% of basal area, while ten dominant species accounted for 63% of abundance and 59% of basal area. A single species, Manniophyton fulvum, dominated the liana community (22% of all individuals). Forty-one species (21%) had one individual only. Twiners, zoochorous, light-demanding, and meso- or microphyllous species dominated. Liana abundance increased with abundance of medium-sized and large trees but was, surprisingly, independent of small-tree abundance. Canopy openness, habitat type, and tree size were the most important factors influencing abundance and distribution of liana individuals. Conclusions – The Ituri liana assemblage stands out by showing an extreme one-species dominance. Species floristic composition is, however, generally similar to that in other tropical African forests.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-42
JournalPlant Ecology and Evolution
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • barro-colorado island
  • tree alpha-diversity
  • tropical forest
  • silvicultural treatments
  • habitat associations
  • community structure
  • species-diversity
  • secondary forest
  • lowland forest
  • growth-rates


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