The importance of littoral forest remnants for indigenous bird conservation in southeastern Madagascar Article Received: 07 March 2003 Revised: 11 November 2003 Accepted: 11 November 2003 DOI:
Cite this article as: Watson, J., Whittaker, R. & Dawson, T. Biodivers Conserv (2005) 14: 523. doi:10.1007/s10531-004-3913-8 Abstract
The littoral forests of Madagascar are relatively unexplored ecosystems that are considered seriously threatened by deforestation and habitat fragmentation. We set out to describe the bird communities inhabiting the littoral forest remnants in three different sub-regions of southeastern Madagascar to determine the national importance of these forests for bird conservation. In total, 77 bird species were found inhabiting 14 littoral forest remnants. Of these species, 40 are endemic to Madagascar and a further 21 are endemic to the Indian Ocean sub-region, consisting of Madagascar, the Comoros and the Mascarenes. The matrix habitats (
Melaleuca forests, marécage swamp forest, Eucalyptus plantations and Erica grassland) that immediately surround the littoral forests were depauperate of bird species and contained few species that were found within the littoral forests. The geographic location of littoral forest remnants had an important role in determining what bird species occurred within them, with the northern remnants having similar bird communities to nearby humid forest whilst the most southern remnant had a bird community that resembled those of nearby spiny forest habitats. Eleven bird species that have been previously described as being habitat-restricted endemics to either spiny forests or humid forests, were found in littoral forest remnants. These results suggest that these littoral forests may play an important transitional role between the two other major natural habitats (spiny forest and humid forest) of southeastern Madagascar. On this basis we advocate that the littoral forest remnants of southeastern Madagascar should be afforded continuing conservation priority. Keywords Birds Conservation Deforestation Fragmentation Humid forests Littoral forests Madagascar Spiny forests References Beehler, B. 1982 Ecological structuring of forest bird communities in Papua New Guinea Gressitt, J.L. eds. Biogeography and Ecology of New Guinea W. Junk The HagueThe Netherlands 837 861 Google Scholar Bibby, C.J. Jones, M. Marsden, S.J. eds. 1998Expedition Field Techniques: Bird Surveys Expedition Advisory Centre London, UK Google Scholar Carr, M. 1994PRIMER: Plymouth Routines in Multivariate Ecological Research Plymouth Marine Laboratory Plymouth, UK Google Scholar Chao, A. 1984 Non-parametric estimation of the number of classes in a population Scandinavian Journal of Statistics 11 265 270 MathSciNet Google Scholar Chao, A. 1987 Estimating the population size for capture–recapture data with unequal catchability Biometrics 43 783 791 PubMed MathSciNet Google Scholar Chazdon, R.L., Colwell, R.K., Denslow, J.S., Guariguata, M.R. 1998 Statistical methods for estimating species richness of woody regeneration in primary and secondary rain forests of NE Costa Rica Dallmeier, F. Comisky, J.A. eds. Forest Biodiversity ResearchMonitoring and Modelling: Conceptual Background and Old World Case Studies Parthenon Publishing Paris, France 285 309 Google Scholar Clarke, K.R. 1993 Non-parametric multivariate analyses of changes in community structure Australian Journal of Ecology 18 117 143 Google Scholar Cornelius, C., Cofre, H., Marquet, P.A. 2000 Effects of habitat fragmentation on bird species in a relict temperate forest in semiarid Chile Conservation Biology 14 534 543 CrossRef Google Scholar Du Puy, D.J., Moat, J. 1996 A refined classification of the primary vegetation of Madagascar based on the underlying geology Lourenco, W.R. eds. Biogeography of Madagascar Orstom Paris, France 205 218 Google Scholar Dumetz, N. 1999 High plant diversity of lowland rainforest vestiges in eastern Madagascar Biodiversity and Conservation 8 273 315 CrossRef Google Scholar Ganzhorn, J.B. 1998 Nested patterns of species composition and its implications for lemur biogeography in Madagascar Folia Primatologica 69 332 341 CrossRef Google Scholar
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