Madagascar ericoid thickets
The ecoregion covers the area above 1800 m elevation on (from north to south) Tsaratanana (2,876 m) (where the thickets are higher, above 2,500m), Marojejy (2,133 m), Ankaratra (2,643 m), and Andringitra Massif (2,658 m). The ericoid thickets are surrounded at lower elevations by the Madagascar subhumid forests ecoregion. The total area of the ecoregion is 1,300 km2 (500 sq mi). On Tsaratanana the thickets are higher, starting above 2,500m. There are smaller areas of thicket in Anjanaharibe-Sud Reserve in the north and Andohahela National Park to the south.
Below these thickets the habitat is Madagascar subhumid forests. The ericoid thickets themselves are characterised by shrubs of the flowering plant families Ericaceae and Asteraceae. The thickets include a large number of endemic plants, many of whose closest relatives live in South Africa and the highlands of East Africa. Andringitra alone is home to 150 vascular endemics, including 25 species of orchid.
These high points of Madagascar are not home to the diverse animal life found on the lower slopes, and the area was not thoroughly researched until the 1990s. There are 10 species of endemic and near-endemic reptiles including the dwarf gecko Lygodactylus arnoulti.
Threats and preservation
The highlands are vulenrable to fire and to conversion to cattle pasture, although Tsaratanana, Andringitra and Marojejy are all protected areas.
- "Madagascar ericoid thickets". Terrestrial Ecoregions. World Wildlife Fund.
- World Wildlife Fund (2001). "Madagascar ericoid thickets". WildWorld Ecoregion Profile. National Geographic Society. Archived from the original on 2010-03-08.