Ecoregions of Madagascar

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Two maps of Madagascar, showing land cover on the left and topography on the right
Land cover (left) and topography (right) of Madagascar.

The ecoregions of Madagascar, as defined by the World Wildlife Fund, include seven terrestrial, five freshwater, and two marine ecoregions. Madagascar's diverse natural habitats harbour a rich fauna and flora with high levels of endemism, but most ecoregions suffer from habitat loss.

Overview[edit]

Madagascar belongs to the Afrotropical realm. With its neighboring Indian Ocean islands, it has been classified by botanist Armen Takhtajan as Madagascan Region, and in phytogeography it is the floristic phytochorion Madagascan Subkingdom in the Paleotropical Kingdom.[citation needed] Madagascar features very contrasting topography, climate, and geology. A mountain range on the east, rising to 2,876 m (9,436 ft) at its highest point, captures most rainfall brought in by trade winds from the Indian Ocean. Consequently, the eastern belt harbours most of the humid forests, while precipitation decreases to the west. The rain shadow region in the southwest has a sub-arid climate. Temperatures are highest on the west coast, with annual means of up to 30 °C (86 °F), while the high massifs have a cool climate, with a 5 °C (41 °F) annual mean locally. Geology features mainly igneous and metamorphic basement rocks, with some lava and quartzite in the central and eastern plateaus, while the western part has belts of sandstone, limestone (including the tsingy formations), and unconsolidated sand.[1]

Terrestrial ecoregions[edit]

Seven terrestrial ecoregions are defined by the World Wildlife Fund for Madagascar. They range from the very humid eastern lowland forests to the sub-arid spiny thickets in the southwest.[2]

Ecoregion Biome WWF code Map Image
Madagascar lowland forests or Madagascar humid forests Tropical moist broadleaf forest: specifically seasonal (monsoon) tropical forest AT0117 Ecoregion AT0117.svg Lowland rainforest, Masoala National Park, Madagascar.jpg
Madagascar subhumid forests Tropical moist broadleaf forest AT0118 Ecoregion AT0118.svg Isalo National Park 01.jpg
Madagascar dry deciduous forests Tropical dry forest AT0202 Ecoregion AT0202.svg Anjajavyforestrazorback.jpg
Madagascar ericoid thickets Montane shrubland AT1011 Ecoregion AT1011.svg Marojejy NP camp 3 view 02.jpg
Madagascar spiny thickets or Madagascar spiny forests Xeric shrubland AT1311 Ecoregion AT1311.svg Spiny Forest Ifaty Madagascar.jpg
Madagascar succulent woodlands Xeric shrubland AT1312 Ecoregion AT1312.svg Madagascar baobab.JPG
Madagascar mangroves Mangroves AT1404 Ecoregion AT1404.svg Mangrove on Westcoast Madagascar I.jpg

Freshwater ecoregions[edit]

Freshwater ecoregions correspond to major catchment areas with a distinctive assemblage of species. In Madagascar, five regions are distinguished:[citation needed]

  • Eastern Lowlands
  • Eastern Highlands
  • Northwestern Basins
  • Southern Basins
  • Western Basins

Marine ecoregions[edit]

The seas around Madagascar are part of the Western Indian Ocean province in the Western Indo-Pacific realm. They are divided into two marine ecoregions:[citation needed]

  • Southeast Madagascar
  • Western and Northern Madagascar

References[edit]

  1. ^ Moat, J.; Smith, P. (2007). Atlas of the Vegetation of Madagascar/Atlas de la Végétation de Madagascar. Richmond, Surrey: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.  (English/French)
  2. ^ Burgess, N.; D'Amico Hales, J.; Underwood, E.; et al., eds. (2004). Terrestrial Ecoregions of Africa and Madagascar: A Conservation Assessment. World Wildlife Fund Ecoregion Assessments (2nd ed.). Washington D.C.: Island Press. ISBN 978-1559633642. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-11-01.