Tree Species Composition in Selected Sacred Forests in Nigeria  

Daniel K.S.1 , Jacob D.E.1 , Udeagha A.U.2
1. Forestry and Natural Environmental Management Department, University of Uyo, Nigeria
2. Department of Forestry Technology, Hussaini Adamu Federal Polytechnic, Kazaure, Nigeria
Author    Correspondence author
International Journal of Molecular Ecology and Conservation, 2015, Vol. 5, No. 7   doi: 10.5376/ijmec.2015.05.0007
Received: 10 Jun., 2015    Accepted: 16 Oct., 2015    Published: 16 Oct., 2015
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This is an open access article published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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Daniel K.S., Jacob D.E. and Udeagha A.U., 2015, Tree Species Composition in Selected Sacred Forests in Nigeria, International Journal of Mol. Ecol. and Conserv, Vol.5, No.7, 1-10 (doi: 10.5376/ijmec.2015.05.0007)

Abstract

Eight sacred forests spread across two states (Akwa Ibom and Cross River) occupying the rain forest zone  in Nigeria were studied to ascertain their structures, species compositions, families and diameter at breast height (dbh) class of available trees in the areas. The two states were independently studied using a multi-stage sampling procedure which employed cluster, simple random and purposive sampling at different stages. Five 20 m x 20 m Temporary Sample Plots (TSP) totaling 2000 m2 (0.2Ha) within the core of each sacred forest were surveyed. All trees with diameter at breast height (dbh) ≥ 10cm encountered were identified and enumerated. Identified trees were placed into various life-form spectra based on Raunkareir Life-form Classification Scheme while families were classified as Very Common (VC), Common (C) and Not Common (NC) based on their availability among the 8 sacred forests. Site Diversity/Richness Index (D) was also determined. Result indicates all the studied sacred forests were structurally complex as expected of a tropical rainforest and sites in Cross River State expressed a three-stratum system. Abaam Itak sacred forest had the highest number of species composition of 38 species with a diversity index of 12.12 and differing between 5 and 11 species, including diversity index from other sacred. Also, Abaam Itak had the highest number of trees family (22) while Akai Mbiam had the least tree family composition of 17 families. Futhermore, 12 families (35%) and 6 families (17.5%) were classified as Very Common and Common respectively. Euphorbiaceae and Fabaceae were the dominant families in all studied sacred forests. The dominant dbh class was 10-30 cm in all the studied sites except for Odim Akerot. This showed a usual preponderance of stem at lower size classes thus revealing a typical inverse J-shape structure of the dbh class distribution. The results give an indication of good regeneration of the constituent species and thus reinforced the hope that the various sacred forests if not destroyed can sustainably produce the various indigenous species that are recklessly destroyed in other forest settings.

Keywords
Forest Structure; Tree species; Sacred forests; Conservation; Nigeria
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