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Current trends in tropical African plant ecology: from species to ecosystems; from conservation to sustainable use

Short title: Current trends in tropical African plant ecology

Chairs: Luis Catarino, Salomão Bandeira, Maria Cristina Duarte, Maria Manuel Romeiras

Contact: lmcatarino@fc.ul.pt

African's major terrestrial and coastal biomes comprises a wealthy repository of biodiversity, with a high proportion of native and endemic plant species, which makes it biologically unique and provides a wide range of ecosystem services. Many of these ecosystems are being degraded, mostly due to the growing impacts from climate change and other anthropogenic and environmental problems, such as overexploitation of natural resources, droughts and floods, changes in land-use and spatial distribution of species. Current land cover change is damaging biodiversity, namely the conversion of forest and other natural areas, such as wetlands, for food production and urban development is happening at a fast step following the rapid transformation of African societies. Such conversion leads to habitat and biodiversity loss, affecting livelihoods, water supply, food security and reducing resilience to extreme events, particularly for people living in rural and coastal areas of African continent. Also, Africa is extraordinarily rich in useful plants and local knowledge on its properties, comprising a strategic strength for sustainable development in the region. The continent has an important genetic diversity that reflects its unique variety of plants and several important native crop species, which are adapted to an ever-changing environment. The knowledge of the huge African plant diversity, as well as the structure, composition and processes involved in vegetation changes, are crucial to promote their sustainable use and to conserve one of the most understudied regions in the world. This session aims to gather contributions to deliver the timely and emerging research in the main topic of Tropical African plant ecology, and presentations covering a wide and multidisciplinary approaches (e.g. Structure and Composition of Plant Communities; Biogeography; Conservation; Ecological Modeling; Genetic Diversity; Ethnobotany; Agroforestry; Restoration, Climate changes and Ecosystem services) are welcome to be submitted.

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