Environmental Management

, Volume 35, Issue 6, pp 779–798 | Cite as

Tree Structure and Diversity in Human-Impacted Littoral Forests, Madagascar

  • J. Carter IngramEmail author
  • Robert J. Whittaker
  • Terence P. Dawson


This research surveyed human-impacted littoral forests in southeastern Madagascar to determine (i) how forest structural features, indicative of human impact, are related to total, utilitarian, and endemic tree diversity; (ii) the distribution, abundance, and demographics of tree species groups (i.e., total, useful, endemic) across the landscape; and (iii) the amount of basal area available per human use category. We also use these data to consider issues of sustainable use and how human impact may influence littoral forest tree community composition across the landscape. Within 22 transects of 400 m2 each, we recorded a total of 135 tree species and 2155 individuals. Seventy-nine species (58%) were utilitarian and 56 (42%) were nonutilitarian species. Of the 2155 individuals, 1827 (84%) trees were utilitarian species. We recorded 23 endemic species (17% of the total species) and 17 (74%) of these were utilitarian species. Basal area was significantly correlated with Shannon Weiner Index values for total (r = 0.64, P < 0.01), utilitarian (r = 0.58, P < 0.01), and endemic tree diversity (r = 0.85, P < 0.01). Basal area was significantly correlated with the Simpson’s index values for the endemic species (r = 0.74, P < 0.01). These correlations suggest that endemic tree species, of high global conservation value, may be the species group most influenced by changes in forest structure. Utilitarian species constituted 84% of the total basal area. The use category contributing the highest amount of basal area to the landscape was firewood. The results presented herein demonstrate that the landscape of southeastern Madagascar, commonly perceived as degraded, retains high value for both global conservation purposes and for local livelihoods. Thus, valuable opportunities may exist for developing conservation incentives that leverage both global and local conservation needs.


Tropical forest Forest structure Biodiversity Human impact Disturbance Conservation Madagascar Species diversity Utilitarian species 



The DEFRA (Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs) Darwin Initiative (project number 162/9/006) supported this project. The authors would like to thank QIT-Madagascar Minerals for in-country support and assistance; Christian Stamm, Ramesy Edmonds, Lalaina Andriamiharisoa, Andry Rabemanantsoa, and Emmanuel Randriambinintsoa for long hours of field survey work; and Clement Sambo for providing the list of utilitarian plant species. The authors would also like to thank Paul Smith and Aaron Davis of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, for their assessment and work on the congruence between the vernacular and Latin names. The authors would also like to thank James Watson and the journal reviewers for constructive comments on an earlier version of this paper.

Literature Cited

  1. Abbot, J. I., Homewood, K. 1999A history of change: causes of miombo woodland decline in a protected area in MalawiJournal of Applied Ecology36422433CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Adams, J. S., McShane, T. O. 1992The myth of wild Africa: conservation without illusionNorton PublishersLondon, UKGoogle Scholar
  3. Balmer, O. 2002Species lists in ecology and conservation: abundances matterConservation Biology1611601161CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barrance, A. 1997Forest genetic resources in Central America: the challenge of conservation. Rural Development Forestry Network paper 21fOverseas Development InstituteLondon, UKGoogle Scholar
  5. Bhat, D. M., Naik, M. B., Patagar, S. G., Hegde, G. T., Kanade, Y. G., Hegde, G. N., Shastri, C. M., Shetti, D. M., Furtado, R. M. 2000Forest dynamics in tropical rain forests of Uttara Kannada district in Western Ghats, IndiaCurrent Science79975985Google Scholar
  6. Bhuyan, P., Khan, M. L., Tripathi, R. S. 2003Tree diversity and population structure in undisturbed and human-impacted stands of tropical wet evergreen forest in Arunachal Pradesh, Eastern Himalayas, IndiaBiodiversity and Conservation1217531773CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bruner, A., Gullison, R. E., Rice, R. E., da Fonseca, G. A. B. 2001Effectiveness of parks in protecting tropical biodiversityScience291125128PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Cadotte, M. W., and J. Lovette-Doust. Habitat fragmentation and anthropogenic pressure alters diversity, abundance, and demographics of a tropical forest community. In pressGoogle Scholar
  9. Chauvet, B. 1972The forests of MadagascarBattistini, R.Richard-Vindard, G. eds. Biogeography and ecology of MadagascarW. JunkThe Hague191199Google Scholar
  10. Chazdon, R. L., Coe, F. G. 1999Ethnobotany of woody species in second-growth, old-growth, and selectively logged forests of northeastern Costa RicaConservation Biology1313121322CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chittibabu, C. V., Parthasarathy, N. 2000Attenuated tree species diversity in human-impacted tropical evergreen forest sites at Kolli hills, Eastern Ghats, IndiaBiodiversity and Conservation914931519CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Colchester, M. 1981Ecological modelling and indigenous systems of resources use: some examples from the Amazon of South VenezuelaAntropologica555172Google Scholar
  13. Colchester, M. 1998Who will garrison the fortresses?Oryx321113CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Colchester, M. 2000Self determination or environmental determinism for indigenous peoples in tropical forest conservationConservation Biology1413651367CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dasmann, R. F. 1976Lifestyles and nature conservationOryx13281286Google Scholar
  16. Day, W. R. 1950Soil conditions which determine windthrow in forestsForestry239095Google Scholar
  17. Gouvenain, R. C., Silander, J. A. 2003Littoral forestGoodman, S. M. J.Benstead, P. eds. The natural history of MadagascarThe University of Chicago PressChicago, Illinois103111Google Scholar
  18. Donque, G. 1972The climatology of MadagascarBattistini, R.Richard-Vindard, G. eds. Biogeography and ecology of MadagascarW. JunkThe Hague87144Google Scholar
  19. Dumetz, N. 1999High plant diversity of lowland rainforest vestiges in eastern MadagascarBiodiversity and Conservation8273315CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Durbin, J., Bernard, K., Fenn, M. 2003The role of socio-economic factors in the loss of Malagasy biodiversityGoodman, S. M.Benstead, J. P. eds. The natural history of MadagascarThe University of Chicago PressChicago, Illinois142146Google Scholar
  21. Fairhead, J., Leach, M. 1998Reframing deforestation: Global analysis and local realitiesRoutledgeLondon, UKGoogle Scholar
  22. Ferraro, P. J. 2002The local costs of establishing protected areas in low income nations: Ranomofauna National Park, MadagascarEcological Economics43261275CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Ganzhorn, J. B. 1998Nested patterns of species composition and its implications for lemur biogeography in MadagascarFolia Primatologica69332341CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Ganzhorn, J. U., Lowry, P., Schatz, G. E., Sommer, S. 2001The biodiversity of Madagascar: One of the world’s hottest hotspots on its way outOryx35346348CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Goodman, S. M., Pidgeon, M., Hawkins, A. F., Schulenberg, T. S. 1997The birds of southeastern MadagascarField Museum of Natural HistoryChicago, IllinoisGoogle Scholar
  26. Gordon, J. E., Barrance, A. J., Schreckenberg, K. 2003Are rare species useful species? Obstacles to the conservation of tree diversity in the dry forest zone agro-ecosystems of Meso-americaGlobal Ecology and Biogeography121319CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Guariguata, M., Chazdon, R. L., Denslow, J. S., Dupuy, J. M., Anderson, L. 1997Structure and floristics of secondary and old growth forest stands in lowland Costa RicaPlant Ecology132107120CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hannah, L., Rakotosamimana, B., Ganzhorn, J., Mittermeier, R., Oliveri, S., Iyer, L., Rajabelina, S., Hough, J., Andriamialisoa, F., Bowles, I., Tilkin, G. 1998Participatory planning, scientific priorities, and landscape conservation in MadagascarEnvironmental Conservation253036CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Henderson, P. A. 2003Practical methods in ecologyBlackwell Science, Ltd.Oxford, UKGoogle Scholar
  30. Henderson, P. A., Seaby, R. M. H. 2000Species diversity and richness software packagePISCES Conservation, Ltd.Lymington, UKGoogle Scholar
  31. Heywood, V., Iriondo, J. M. 2003Plant conservation: old problems, new perspectivesBiological Conservation113321335CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Huang, W., Pohjonen, V., Johansson, S., Nashanda, M., Katigula, M. I. L., Luukkanen, O. 2003Species diversity, forest structure and species composition in Tanzanian tropical forestsForest Ecology and Management1731124CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Ingram, J. C., Dawson, T. P., Jepson, P., Whittaker, R. J. 2005Mapping tropical forest structure in south-eastern Madagascar using remote sensing and artificial neural networksRemote Sensing of the Environment94491507CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Jepson, P., Canney, S. 2001Biodiversity hotspots: hot for what?Global Ecology and Biogeography10225227CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Kent, M., Coker, P. 1992Vegetation description and analysisBelhaven PressLondon, UKGoogle Scholar
  36. Kramer, R., Schaik, C., Johnson, J. 1997Last stand: Protected areas and the defense of tropical diversityOxford University PressNew YorkGoogle Scholar
  37. Kremen, C., Raymond, I., Lance, K. 1998An interdisciplinary tool for monitoring conservation impacts in MadagascarConservation Biology12549563CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Kremen, C., Razafimahatratra, V., Guillery, R. P., Rakotomalala, J., Weiss, A. J., Ratsisompatrarivo, S. 1999Designing the Masoala National Park in Madagascar based on biological and socioeconomic dataConservation Biology1310551068CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Kull, C. 1996The evolution of conservation efforts in MadagascarInternational Environmental Affairs85086Google Scholar
  40. Lande, R., De Vries, P., Walla, T. 2000When species accumulation curves intersect: Implications for measuring diversity using small samplesOikos89601605CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Leigh, E. G. 1988Importance de la faune et de la flore de Madagascar pour la théorie de l’évolutionRakotovoa, L.Barre, V.Sayer, J. eds. L’équilibre des écosystèmes forestiers à Madagascar: Actes d’un séminaire internationalIUCNGland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.155183Google Scholar
  42. Lewis Environmental Consultants. 1992. Environmental Impact Assessment Study, Part I: Natural Environment. In QIT-Madagascar minerals environmental impact assessment. QMM, Montreal, QuebecGoogle Scholar
  43. Lowry, P. 2001A re-assessment and update of priority endemic plant species at Mandena Region of Tolagnaro, MadagascarMissouri Botanical GardenSt. Louis, MissouriGoogle Scholar
  44. Lowry, P., Smith, P., Rabevohitra, R. 1999Review of MIR Teledetection Inc. Deforestation study in the region of Fort-Dauphin (Tolagnaro), MadagascarMissouri Botanical GardenSt. Louis, MissouriGoogle Scholar
  45. Macedo, D. S., Anderson, A. B. 1993Early ecological changes associated with logging in an Amazon floodplainBiotropica25151163Google Scholar
  46. McConnell, W. J., Sweeney, S. P., Mulley, B. 2004Physical and social access to land: Spatio-temporal patterns of agricultural expansion in MadagascarAgriculture, Ecosystems and Environment101171184Google Scholar
  47. McLaren, K., McDonald, M. A. 2003Coppice regrowth in a disturbed tropical dry limestone forest in JamaicaForest Ecology and Management18099111CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. McNeely, J. 1989Protected areas and human ecology: How national parks can contribute to sustaining societies of the twenty-first centuryWestern, D.Pearl, and M. C. eds. Conservation for the twenty-first centuryOxford University PressOxford, UK150157Google Scholar
  49. Mearns, R. 1995Institutions and natural resource management: Access to and control over woodfuel in East AfricaBinns, T. eds. People and environment in AfricaJohn Wiley and SonsLondon, UK103114Google Scholar
  50. Medley, K. 1993Extractive forest resources of the Tana River National Primate ReserveEconomic Botany47171183Google Scholar
  51. MIR Télédétection Inc1998Étude sur la deforestation dans la region de Fort-Dauphin, MadagascarQuebecMontreal46Google Scholar
  52. Myers, . 2000Biodiversity hotspots for conservation prioritiesNature403853859CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  53. Nyerges, A. E. 1989Coppice swidden fallows in tropical deciduous forest: biological, technological, and socio-cultural determinants of secondary forest successionHuman Ecology17379400CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Okuda, T., Suzuki, M., Adachi, N., Quah, E. S., Hussein, N. A., Manokaran, N. 2003Effect of selective logging on canopy and stand structure and tree species composition in a lowland dipterocarp forest in peninsular MalaysiaForest Ecology and Management175297320CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Olindo, P. 1989Overview: a planner’s perspectiveWestern, D.Pearl, M. C. eds. Conservation for the twenty-first centuryOxford University PressOxford, UK251253Google Scholar
  56. Posey, D. A. 1983Indigenous ecological knowledge and development of the AmazonMoran, E. F. eds. The dilemma of Amazon developmentWestview PressBoulder Colorado225257Google Scholar
  57. QMM, QIT-Madagascar Minerals, South Africa2001Social and environmental impact assessmentQMMMontreal, QuebecGoogle Scholar
  58. Rao, P., Barik, S. K., Pandey, H. N., Tripathi, R. S. 1990Community composition and tree population structure in a sub-tropical broad-leaved forest along a disturbance gradientVegetatio88151162CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Sheil, D. 1999Tropical forest diversity, environmental change and species augmentation: after the immediate disturbance hypothesisJournal of Vegetation Science10851860Google Scholar
  60. Shwartzmann, S., Nepstad, D., Moreira, A. 2000aArguing tropical forest conservation: people versus parksConservation Biology1413701374CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Shwartzmann, S., Moreira, A., Nepstad, D. 2000bRethinking tropical forest conservation: perils in parksConservation Biology1413511357CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Simpson, E. H. 1949Measurement of diversityNature163688Google Scholar
  63. Singh, S. P. 1998Chronic disturbance, a principal cause of environmental degradation in developing countriesEnvironmental Conservation2512Google Scholar
  64. ter Steege, H., Sabatier, D., Castellanos, H., van Andel, T. 2000An analysis of the floristic composition and diversity of Amazonian forests including those of the Guiana shieldJournal of Tropical Ecology16801828CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. UN, (United Nations). 2003. Least developing countries. www.un.orgGoogle Scholar
  66. UNESCO, (United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization). 2003. World heritage news.
  67. van Jaarsveld, A. S., Freitag, S., Chown, S. L., Muller, C., Koch, S., Hull, H., Bellamy, C., Kruger, M., Endrody-Younga, S., Mansell, M., Scholtz, C. H. 1998Biodiversity assessment and conservation strategiesScience27921062108PubMedGoogle Scholar
  68. Vincelette, M., L. Randrihasipara, J. B. Ramanamanjato, P. P. Lowry, and J. U. Ganzhorn. 2003. S. M. Goodman and J. P. Benstead (eds.). The natural history of Madagascar. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Illinois. Pages 1535–1537Google Scholar
  69. Watson, J., Whittaker, R. and J., Dawson, T. P. 2004. The importance of littoral forest remnants for indigenous bird conservation in southeastern Madagascar. Biodiversity and Conservation. In pressGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Carter Ingram
    • 1
    Email author
  • Robert J. Whittaker
    • 1
  • Terence P. Dawson
    • 1
  1. 1.Biodiversity Research GroupSchool of Geography and the EnvironmentUniversity of OxfordOxfordEngland

Personalised recommendations