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Andropogon chevalieri

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
PLANTAE TRACHEOPHYTA LILIOPSIDA CYPERALES GRAMINEAE

Scientific Name: Andropogon chevalieri
Species Authority: Reznik
Common Name(s):
English Beardgrass, Bluestem, Broomsedge
Synonym(s):
Andropogon felicis Reznik
Andropogon felicis Reznik
Andropogon pseudauriculatus Mimeur
Andropogon pseudauriculatus Mimeur
Taxonomic Notes: Common names refer to all species found in the Andropogon genus.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2011
Date Assessed: 2007-07-23
Assessor(s): Crook, V.
Reviewer(s): Hilton-Taylor, C. & Lutz, M.L.
Justification:
This hardy grass species is known from over 25 herbarium collections from Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali and Senegal. Collection years range from 1908 to 1995, with collections having been made regularly throughout this period. A study on chimpanzees in the Niokolo Koba National Park in 2002 and 2003 also includes records of the species.

The extent of occurrence (EOO) of Andropogon chevalieri has been estimated at 197,237 km² and area of occupancy (AOO)at 64,800 km². Both these values suggest the species is of least conservation concern. Andropogon species are commonly adventive, suggesting that the species is likely to occur in other neighbouring countries, especially Togo and Ivory Coast where there have been unconfirmed sightings.

Many Andropogon species are considered weeds and are extremely hardy and it is likely that this species is relatively abundant throughout its range, being found in a variety of habitats including savanna woodlands, grasslands and gallery forests. The presence of extensive subpopulations within the Niokolo-Koba National Park in Senegal can be inferred from the number of specimens which have been collected there and the fact that Fongoli chimpanzees are known to swallow large amounts of this grass, presumably for medicinal properties, and to use its blades as tools for harvesting social insects. It is likely that the species is an important forage species for both domestic and wild animals.

Threats to the West Sudanian Savanna and Guinean Forest-savanna Mosaic ecoregions, where A. chevalieri is found, include unsustainable cattle grazing, wildfires and drought. Although many protected areas exist, most are under-resourced "paper parks" with little active enforcement on the ground. This grass is unlikely to be seriously threatened by these processes, however, due to its widespread and hardy nature. Andropogon chevalieri has been rated Least Concern.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Found in Mali, Senegal, Guinea and Guinea-Bissau, possibly also in Togo and the Ivory Coast. Andropogon species are commonly adventive (locally or temporally naturalized) and therefore it is likely that A. chevalieri be found in other neighbouring countries.
Countries:
Native:
Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Mali; Senegal
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Many Andropogon species are considered weeds and are extremely hardy and it is likely that this species is relatively abundant throughout its range, being found in a variety of habitats. The presence of extensive subpopulations within the Niokolo-Koba National Park in Senegal can be inferred from the number of specimens which have been collected there and the fact that Fongoli chimpanzees are known to swallow large amounts of this grass, presumably for medicinal properties.
Population Trend: Stable

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Andropogon chevalieri is a tall annual grass, with culms reaching over 2.5 m in height. Leaf surfaces are scabrous (rough) and the leaf margins are fringed with short hairs.

Generally found on dry, stony soils, the species has been collected from various habitats within two ecoregions (West Sudanian Savanna and Guinean Forest-savanna mosaic):
- Steep rocky slopes between waterfall and plateau, along trail
- Woodland
- Grassland on surrounding plateau
- Tall gallery forest with Ceiba pentandra bordering stream and a small waterfall
- Plateau without trees
- Savanna woodlands
- Plateau with laterite soils
- Gallery forest with Anogeissus

Altitude range, derived from specimen labels, is 50 m to 450 m.

It is known to be abundant during the rainy season, especially in the Niokolo-Koba National Park in Senegal. During the beginning of the rainy season, on July 22, 2002, a chimpanzee fecal sample was collected that was made up almost entirely of wadded A. grass leaves. Over two months later, near the end of the rainy season, on Sept. 27, Oct. 25, and on Nov. 14, more samples were found that also contained large amounts of unchewed grass leaves.
Systems: Terrestrial

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: It is likely that the species is an important forage species for both domestic and wild animals.

Evidence of leaf swallowing, a proposed form of medicinal plant use by savanna chimpanzees, was recently recorded at the Fongoli study site in southeastern Senegal. Several fecal samples indicated that Fongoli chimpanzees swallow whole large amounts of grass leaves belonging to the species A. chevalieri. In addition, these chimpanzees have been observed using the grass as a tool to harvest social insects, e.g. ants.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Human activities have reduced, degraded, and fragmented both the West Sudanian Savanna and Guinean Forest-savanna Mosaic ecoregions. Both ecoregions are considered critical/endangered. Population densities of 50 to 100 persons/km² are found widely. There are considerable pressures on the land from seasonal farming, grazing animals, cutting trees and bushes for wood, burning woody material for charcoal, and from wild fires. Climatic desiccation is a further threat, exacerbating human pressures, as the ability of the ecosystem to recover from overuse is reduced when there is little rainfall. Although many protected areas exist, most are under-resourced "paper parks" with little active enforcement on the ground.

Andropogon chevalieri, being a widespread and hardy grass, is unlikely to be seriously threatened by these processes, however. Many other Andropogon species are considered weeds, again indicating that this species can adapt to significant disturbance and possibly even thrive under these conditions.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Many specimens of A. chevalieri have been collected from Niokolo-Koba National Park in Senegal, which has also been a World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve since 1981. However, there has been a serious deterioration in its state of conservation over the last few years with widespread cattle grazing, commercial timber exploitation and poaching occurring within the park.

Andropogon chevalieri is on the target species list for the Millennium Seed Bank Project and was included in the Mali Collection Guide compiled by the Species Targeting Team. Seed for banking (in Mali and the UK), however, has not been collected as yet.

Citation: Crook, V. 2011. Andropogon chevalieri. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 01 September 2014.
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