Original Paper

Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 18, Issue 10, pp 2719-2742

First online:

Conservation value for birds of traditionally managed isolated trees in an agricultural landscape of Madagascar

  • Emily A. MartinAffiliated withIRD-Montpellier
  • , Lalaïna RatsimisetraAffiliated withFaculté des Sciences, Université Antananarivo
  • , Francis LaloëAffiliated withIRD-Montpellier
  • , Stéphanie M. CarrièreAffiliated withIRD-Montpellier Email author 

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Isolated trees have distinctive economic, social and cultural value for the Betsileo people living on the edge of the protected forest corridor between Ranomafana and Andringitra national parks, in South-East Madagascar. Many of these trees are Ficus spp., traditionally protected and respected. At the landscape level, they are isolated features in a heterogeneous mosaic, providing fruit, shade and aesthetic services in open cultivated areas. Within the current management system, isolated trees may also contribute significantly to the provision of ecological services by enhancing bird diversity in open areas outside the forest. We identified practices and values linked to isolated tree uses and management through ethnographic data collection. Bird presence and abundance were sampled by 338 point counts in isolated trees and open areas of the agricultural mosaic. Isolated trees were occupied by 18 out of 32 (56%) bird species in the agricultural mosaic, including 8 (25%) endemic forest species. Endemic forest birds were significantly more numerous in isolated trees than in open habitats, both in species richness and abundance (mean P value < 0.001). Overall bird species richness was significantly higher in open areas containing isolated trees, than in areas without isolated trees. Bird species richness in Ficus spp. was significantly higher than in other isolated tree species, although no differences were detected in abundance or within guilds. Community-based management of isolated trees may thus represent an opportunity for convergence between bird conservation goals outside protected areas and local management values and practices.


Agricultural landscape Biodiversity conservation Birds Community-based resource management Ficus spp. Isolated trees Madagascar Ranomafana–Andringitra forest corridor Traditional practices