, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 273-315

High plant diversity of lowland rainforest vestiges in eastern Madagascar

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Based on cartography, floristic inventory and vegetation analysis in the north and south of the Eastern Domain of Madagascar we identified three original tropical rainforest types which are among the world's most biodiverse known sites for plants: the littoral forest on sand, the lowland forest on gneiss and the lowland forest on basalt. Floristic and structural comparisons were conducted on 37 plots of 50×10m. Multivariate analysis indicates that floristic composition is correlated with abiotic factors of rainfall, latitude, soil composition, and marine influence; the structure of the undergrowth is generally homogeneous and the canopy is more or less open. Many reserves must be created on gneiss, sand and basalt all along the eastern coast to preserve biodiversity from the deforestation process. On basalt, this is especially urgent because about only 10 000 ha of a very ancient forest that shelters numerous botanical novelties remain today.