Madagascar spiny forests
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The Madagascar spiny forests (also known as the Madagascar spiny thickets) is an ecoregion in Madagascar. The vegetation type is found on poor substrates with low, erratic winter rainfall. An estimated 14,000 to 17,000 square miles (44,000 km2) is covered with this habitat, all in the southwest of the country. The ecoregion contains an outstanding proportion of endemic plant species.
Many constituent plants show extreme adaptations to drought. Spiny plants of the endemic family Didiereaceae form a conspicuous component, especially towards the east. They are woody but distantly related to the cacti (see Caryophyllales). The remaining component of the forests is dominated by members of the plant families Burseraceae, Euphorbiaceae, Anacardiaceae and Fabaceae, all which have representatives elsewhere.
Existing reserves protect a maximum of 3% of remaining vegetation. Andohahela National Park offers limited protection through its 'parcel 3' section. Elsewhere the spiny forest habitat is under pressure from human exploitation. The main impacting activities are:
- Burning for conversion to grazing land
- Harvesting for charcoal and firewood
- Logging for construction
The bottle tree, Moringa drouhardii, found mainly in the spiny forests
A fat-tailed dwarf lemur of the spiny forests and succulent woodlands
Verreaux's sifaka, a lemur species occurring, in part, in the spiny forests
A ring-tailed lemur in Berenty Reserve, set in the spiny forests ecoregion
Grandidier's mongoose, a range-restricted carnivore of the spiny forests
The subdesert mesite, endemic to the spiny forests
- "Madagascar spiny thickets". Terrestrial Ecoregions. World Wildlife Fund. Retrieved 4 February 2011.
- For extent, fragmentation and intact sections, see: A refined classification of the primary vegetation of Madagascar based on the underlying geology, Du Puy and Moat, 1996.
- For dominant plant families, see: Structure and floristic composition of the vegetation in the Réserve Naturelle Intégrale d’Andohahela, Madagascar, Rakotomalaza and Messmer, 1999.
- "Madagascar spiny thickets". Terrestrial Ecoregions. World Wildlife Fund.
- Madagascar spiny thickets (Encyclopedia of the Earth)