Ecosystems in MadagascarThere are a variety of ecosystems in Madagascar:
TROPICAL MOIST FORESTS
These forests are some of the rarest in Madagascar. The Bradt guide describes these forests as follows: "Rooted in sand, washed with salty air, battered by cyclones and bordering lagoons and marshes the coastal forest harbors a very unusual community. The architecture of the forest is similar to the more widespread lowland forest, but the plants here are different: they are salt-tolerant and highly efficient at extracting water and nutrients from, the shallow porous sand beneath them." These forests are comparable in structure to the white sands or blackwater forests of the Amazon basin or the heath forests of southeast Asia.
Examples: forests north of Fort Dauphin and around Antalaha/Sambava
Lowland rainforests are the most biologically rich ecosystems in Madagascar. These forests are characterized by warm temperatures, humidity that hovers around 100% year round, more than 200 cm (80 inches) of rain annually, and a well developed canopy. MORE
Examples: Masoala (including Nosy Mangabe), Makira, Mananara-Nord
Montane rainforest is cooler than lowland rainforest with a lower canopy (18-25 m) and abundant epiphyte growth (especially ferms and orchids), mosses and lichens. Many lemurs and chameleons are found in Madagascar's montane forests.
Examples: Ranomafana, Andasibe-Mantadia , Montagne d' Ambre, Marojejy
These forests are cool and often enveloped in mist. Trees are typically shorter than those of lowland forest resulting in a less developed canopy at a height of 10 meters or less. The ground may be covered with a thick layer of mosses and lichens and epiphytes like orchids and ferns thrive with the abundance of moisture from the passing fog. Characterized by rapid changes in temperature and humidity.
Examples: Marojejy, Andringitra
At the high elevations of Madagascar's tallest peaks, forests yield to a mosaic of stunted montane vegetation, lichens, peat bogs, and grasses, and rock exposures. In this zone you can may find orchids and minature palm trees.
Examples: Marojejy, Andringitra
Sambirano forest is found in the northwestern part of the island and serves as transition between the eastern moist forests and the western dry forests. These forests, especially at low elevations, are highly threatened.
Examples: Lokobe, parts of the Tsarantanana Massif, region around Manangorivo
Dry deciduous forest
These seasonal forests are found from northwestern Madagascar south to near Fort Dauphin. While less diverse than their eastern counterparts, the island's dry deciduous forests have high levels of endemicism and many species of lemurs. Deciduous trees lose their leaves during the 6-8 month dry season. When rains return these forests erupt in a sea of bright green leaves.
Examples: Kirindy, Zombitse-Vohibasia, Berenty, Bemaraha
Examples: Ankarana, Bemaraha, Namoroka
Examples: Berenty, Bezaha Mahafaly, Ifaty, Cap Sainte Marie
Grasslands of the Hauts Plateaux ("bosaka")
Examples: Central plateau outside Antananarivo
Examples: Region around Isalo
Examples: Much of the eastern rainforest has been replaced with secondary forest. You will find savoka around most national parks having moist forest.
Lakes, marshes, swamps
Examples: Lake Alaotra, Bay de baly, Tsimanampetsotsa
Examples: Mahajanga, Marovoay.
Examples: Islands north off northern Madagascar (Nosy Be and north); area around Fort Dauphin; Masoala; Ifaty region
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