Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2022-580
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2022-580
08 Jul 2022
 | 08 Jul 2022

What determines peat swamp vegetation type in the Central Congo Basin?

Selena Georgiou, Edward T. A. Mitchard, Bart Crezee, Paul I. Palmer, Greta C. Dargie, Sofie Sjögersten, Corneille E. N. Ewango, Ovide B. Emba, Joseph T. Kanyama, Pierre Bola, Jean-Bosco N. Ndjango, Nicholas T. Girkin, Yannick E. Bocko, Suspense A. Ifo, and Simon L. Lewis

Abstract. The Central Congo Basin is home to the largest peat swamp in the tropics. Two major vegetation types overlay the peat: hardwood trees, and palms (mostly the trunkless Raphia laurentii variety), with each dominant in different locations. The cause of the location of these differently composed swamp areas is not understood. We investigated their distribution using a recent vegetation classification across the 165,600 km2 region. Using a regression model we assessed the impacts of elevation, seasonal rainfall and temperature on the presence of each peat vegetation type. We used monthly 0.05° resolution CHIRPS rainfall climatology (CHPclim) and maximum temperature (CHIRTS) data together with 90 m resolution terrain data (MERIT Hydro). Our model was successful in predicting the percentage palm swamp composition when tested using data held back for verification, with R2 ~ 0.79, RMSE = 14.8 %, and p < 0.05 for the largely rain-fed hydrological sub-basins. However, it did not perform well in areas where peatland inundation is controlled by river flooding. We found that palm swamp composition varies primarily with elevation and dry season climatological variables (rainfall and temperature), with additional, significant contributions from the total wet season rainfall and temperature. There are indications of an optimal range of net water availability (the difference between rainfall and actual evapotranspiration, accounting for run-off) for palm swamp dominance, above and below which hardwood swamp dominates. In this study we progress our understanding of the determinants of peat swamp vegetation type in the central Congo Basin. Improved understanding will contribute to assessing how changes in environmental factors, including land-use and climate change impacts, could impact swamp type distribution and carbon fluxes in the future.

Publisher's note: Copernicus Publications remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims made in the text, published maps, institutional affiliations, or any other geographical representation in this preprint. The responsibility to include appropriate place names lies with the authors.
Selena Georgiou, Edward T. A. Mitchard, Bart Crezee, Paul I. Palmer, Greta C. Dargie, Sofie Sjögersten, Corneille E. N. Ewango, Ovide B. Emba, Joseph T. Kanyama, Pierre Bola, Jean-Bosco N. Ndjango, Nicholas T. Girkin, Yannick E. Bocko, Suspense A. Ifo, and Simon L. Lewis

Status: closed

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-580', Anonymous Referee #1, 06 Sep 2022
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Selena Georgiou, 29 Sep 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-580', Anonymous Referee #2, 14 Sep 2022
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Selena Georgiou, 29 Sep 2022

Status: closed

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-580', Anonymous Referee #1, 06 Sep 2022
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Selena Georgiou, 29 Sep 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-580', Anonymous Referee #2, 14 Sep 2022
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Selena Georgiou, 29 Sep 2022
Selena Georgiou, Edward T. A. Mitchard, Bart Crezee, Paul I. Palmer, Greta C. Dargie, Sofie Sjögersten, Corneille E. N. Ewango, Ovide B. Emba, Joseph T. Kanyama, Pierre Bola, Jean-Bosco N. Ndjango, Nicholas T. Girkin, Yannick E. Bocko, Suspense A. Ifo, and Simon L. Lewis
Selena Georgiou, Edward T. A. Mitchard, Bart Crezee, Paul I. Palmer, Greta C. Dargie, Sofie Sjögersten, Corneille E. N. Ewango, Ovide B. Emba, Joseph T. Kanyama, Pierre Bola, Jean-Bosco N. Ndjango, Nicholas T. Girkin, Yannick E. Bocko, Suspense A. Ifo, and Simon L. Lewis

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Short summary
Two major vegetation types, hardwood trees and palms, overlay the Central Congo Basin peatland complex, each dominant in different locations. We investigated the influence of terrain and climatological variables on their distribution, using a regression model, and found elevation and seasonal rainfall and temperature contribute significantly. There are indications of an optimal range of net water input for palm swamp to dominate, above and below which hardwood swamp dominates.