Just south of Morombe on coastal white sand with locally dominant “dwarf” Adansonia grandidieri that nevertheless tower above spiny succulent Didierea madagascariensis and succulent Euphorbia trees. Pete Phillipson. Madagascar Conservation & Development

Dryland tree data for the Southwest region of Madagascar: alpha-level data can support policy decisions for conserving and restoring ecosystems of arid and semiarid regions

James Charles Aronson, Peter B. Phillipson, Edouard Le Floc'h, Tantely Raminosoa

Abstract


We present an eco-geographical dataset of the 355 tree species (156 genera, 55 families) found in the driest coastal portion of the spiny forest-thickets of southwestern Madagascar. This coastal strip harbors one of the richest and most endangered dryland tree floras in the world, both in terms of overall species diversity and of endemism. After describing the biophysical and socio-economic setting of this semiarid coastal region, we discuss this region’s diverse and rich tree flora in the context of the recent expansion of the protected area network in Madagascar and the growing engagement and commitment to ecological restoration. Our database, DTsMada (short for Desert Trees of Madagascar), is part of a larger ‘work-in-progress’, namely an eco-geographical database on desert and dryland trees of the world. DTsMada draws heavily on the Catalogue of the Vascular Plants of Madagascar (MadCat) project, in which floristic, ecological and endemism parameters are compiled, together with available conservation status assessments based on IUCN Red List criteria. Both are projects within the plant systematics database, Tropicos, developed at Missouri Botanical Garden and maintained on the Garden’s website. To highlight the need for greater study of the interactions between biological, bioclimatic, and anthropogenic determinants of current and potentially changing biogeographical patterns and community dynamics in the tree strata of vegetation in the study area, we consider four contrasting groups of native trees: Adansonia spp. (Malvaceae), Pachypodium spp. (Apocynaceae), Baudouinia spp. (Fabaceae), and all 11 species in the 4 genera of Didiereaceae in Madagascar. We discuss DTsMada as a prototype dataset of alpha level information vital for effective conservation, landscape planning, sustainable use and management, and ecological restoration of degraded arid and semiarid ecosystems, in Madagascar and elsewhere.

 

Résumé

Nous présentons un ensemble de données éco-géographiques sur les 355 espèces d’arbres (156 genres, 55 familles) présentes dans les fourrés et forêts épineux de la frange côtière aride et semiaride du Sud-ouest de Madagascar. Cette région possède un des assemblages d’arbres de climat sec les plus riches (en termes de diversité spécifique et d’endémisme), et les plus menacés au monde. Après une description du cadre biophysique et de la situation socio-économique de cette région, nous présentons cette flore régionale dans le contexte de la récente expansion du réseau de des aires protégées de Madagascar et de l’engagement croissant dans le domaine de la restauration écologique. Notre base de données DTsMada (raccourci de « Desert Trees - Madagascar », en anglais) s’inscrit dans le cadre d’une base de données éco-géographique plus large que nous développons, regroupant les espèces d’arbres des régions arides et semiarides du monde entier, avec un accent particulier mis sur leur utilisation dans la conservation, gestion et restauration écologique. Nombre des informations présentées dans DTsMada proviennent du projet MadCat (Catalogue des plantes vasculaires de Madagascar) qui regroupe des données floristiques et écologiques, et les statuts d’endémisme et de conservation des espèces végétales, basés sur les critères de l’UICN.

Ces deux projets font partie de la base de données taxonomique Tropicos, du Jardin Botanique du Missouri. Pour souligner le besoin de disposer de plus d’études pour comprendre : les interactions entre les facteurs biologiques, bioclimatiques et anthropiques qui affectent la biogéographie et les dynamiques des communautés dans les strates arborées de la végétation dans la région étudiée, qu’il s’agisse de la situation actuelle ou celle d’un futur qui sera éventuellement modifié, nous considérons quatre groupes bien différents d’espèces d’arbres indigènes : Adansonia spp. (Malvaceae), Pachypodium spp. (Apocynaceae), Baudouinia spp. (Fabaceae) et les 11 espèces dans les 4 genres de la famille des Didiereaceae du Sud-ouest de Madagascar. Nous traitons DTsMada comme prototype d’une base de données de niveau alpha, vitales pour la conservation, la planification, le développement durable, la gestion et la restauration écologique des écosystèmes arides et semiarides de Madagascar et d’ailleurs.


Keywords


Dryland; Semi-desert; Conservation; Databases; Ecological Restoration; Adansonia; Baudouinia; Pachypodium; Didiereaceae; Shifting baseline syndrome; Artificial negative selection.

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