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Journal of Botany
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 9523685, 11 pages
Research Article

Effects of Climate and Land Use on Herbaceous Species Richness and Vegetation Composition in West African Savanna Ecosystems

1Laboratory of Plant biology and Ecology, University of Ouagadougou, 03 BP 7021, Ouagadougou 03, Burkina Faso
2Institute of Ecology, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Dornburger Strasse 159, 07743 Jena, Germany
3Department of Ecology and Geobotany, Institute for Ecology, Evolution and Diversity, J. W. Goethe University, Max-von-Laue-Strasse 13, 60438 Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Received 28 September 2015; Accepted 17 January 2016

Academic Editor: Guang S. Zhou

Copyright © 2016 Issouf Zerbo et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


West African Savanna ecosystems are undergoing severe changes in their vegetation composition due to the impact of human land use and changes in climatic conditions. This study aims to examine the effect of climate, land use, and their interaction on species richness and composition of West African herbaceous vegetation. Plot based vegetation sampling was done in Burkina Faso. Specific richness and diversity indices were used to determine the effect of land use, climate, and their interaction. An importance value was computed to determine herbaceous species dominating the communities. Frequency of species is used to examine their distribution pattern. The results showed that climate significantly influenced herbaceous specific richness more than land use. However, land use had a significant effect on herbaceous vegetation composition. Herbaceous species diversity changed with environmental conditions. The floristic composition of dominant species is driven by both climate and land use. The frequency of distribution demonstrated that herbaceous species occurrences were more influenced by the mixed effect of climate and land use than their separate effects. Occasional and rare species are the most important part of herbaceous vegetation. Thus heterogeneity of Savanna ecosystem and vulnerability of herbaceous species are high.