Environmental Management

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

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

  • J. Carter Ingram
  • Robert J. Whittaker
  • Terence P. Dawson
Article

Abstract

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.

Keywords

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

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Carter Ingram
    • 1
  • Robert J. Whittaker
    • 1
  • Terence P. Dawson
    • 1
  1. 1.Biodiversity Research GroupSchool of Geography and the EnvironmentUniversity of OxfordOxfordEngland
  2. 2.Earth InstituteColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

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