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Rainforests of Madagascar

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Gwendolyn Warren

on 18 March 2013

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Transcript of Rainforests of Madagascar

Rainforests of Madagascar Madagascar Situated in the south western area of the Indian Ocean east of the coast of Africa about 400 km off the coast of Mozambique.
Area: 587,040 km² (226,658 sq miles) about the size of Texas or France
Estimated to be about twice the size of Arizona
World's fourth-largest island.
Is recognized as one of the world's top ten hotspots for biodiversity. What is a Rainforest? A dense evergreen forest with an annual rainfall of 406 cm (160 in). Rainforests are often, but not always, located in tropical regions. Types of Rainforests
in Madagascar Coastal Rainforests Elevation: Sea level
Rarest forests in Madagascar
Description: rooted in sand, washed by salty air, battered by cyclones and they border lagoons and marshes.
Similar to lowland rainforest, but the plants are different: they are salt tolerant and highly efficient at extracting water and nutrients from the shallow, porous sand beneath them. Coastal Rainforests Lowland Rainforest Lowland Rainforest Elevation: 0-800m
Madagascar's most biologically rich ecosystems
Found on the eastern coast of Madagascar
Characterized by...
Warm temperatures
Humidity hovers around 100 percent year round
Receives more than 200cm (80in) of rain annually
Has a well developed Canopy Montane Rainforest Montane forest: a dense growth of trees, plants and underbrush covering a large area
Elevation: 800-1300m
Cooler than lowland forest, w/ lower canopy (18-25m)
Many chameleons and lemurs found in the area
Abundant epiphyte growth (especially ferns and orchids), lichens, mosses
Epiphytes: the so-called air plants grow on branches high in the trees, using the limbs merely for support and extracting moisture from the air and trapping the constant leaf-fall and wind-blown dust. Montane Rainforest
Primary tropical rainforest is vertically divided into at least 5 layers:
1) the overstory (emergent layer)
2) the canopy
3) the understory
4) the shrub layer
5) the forest floor
Each layer has its own unique plant and animal species interacting with the ecosystem around them. The overstory refers to the crowns of emergent trees which soar 20 -100 ft above the rest of the canopy.
The height of the trees also makes them a prime nesting site for birds of prey. The Overstory
(The Emergent Layer) The Canopy Canopy Below the overstory trees, the canopy stretches for vast distances, seemingly unbroken when observed from an airplane above.
The canopy is the dense ceiling of closely spaced trees and their branches.
An estimated 70-90% of life in the rainforest exists in the trees
Despite overlapping tree branches, canopy trees rarely interlock or even touch.
Instead they are separated from one another by a few feet.
Why the branches of these trees do not touch is still a mystery, but it is thought that it might serve as protection from infestations from tree-eating caterpillars and tree diseases like leaf blight.
To survive, canopy dwellers must have the ability to negotiate these gaps by climbing, leaping, gliding, or flying. The Understory The understory is the term for more widely spaced, smaller tree species that form a broken layer below the canopy. The Shrub Layer The shrub layer is characterized by shrubby species and juvenile trees that grow only 5-20 feet off the forest floor.
The shrub layer is home to tree trunks, fungus and other low-growing vegetation. Forest Floor The ground layer of the forest made up of large tree trunks, fungus, interspersed hanging vines and lianas, countless seedlings and saplings, and a relatively small number of ground plants and low growing vegetation.
Relatively clear of vegetation due to the deep darkness created by perhaps 100 feet (30 m) of canopy vegetation above. Plant Life Madagascar is home to as many as 12,000 plant species - 70-80% of which are endemic (not found anywhere else in the world)- making it one of the most diverse floras on the planet.
The rainforests are not dominated by any one particular kind of tree, but are a mixture of more than 150 species, growing to a height of up to 100 feet. Plant Life Madagascar rainforests harbor a quarter of the plants used in modern medicine. 
Another highly valued medicinal plant is the rosy periwinkle, found only in Madagascar's forests, which has anti-cancer potential and is used to treat leukemia.
Scientists, conservationists, and pharmaceutical companies from around the world have convened to study and protect these valuable plants before deforestation causes their extinction. Plant Life Species of Animals Of roughly 200,000 known species found on Madagascar, about 150,000 are endemic.
Three-quarters of the animals of Madagascar can be found nowhere else in the world.
Unique to the island are more than 50 types of lemurs, and 36 genera of birds.
Madagascar houses 100 percent of the world's lemurs, half of its chameleon species, and 6 percent of its frogs. Species of Animals Mammals include mongoose, fossas, civets, fanaloucs, tenrecs (hedgehog-like animals), moles, rats, mice and bats.
It is very common on islands that there are no large mammals, and bats and rodents make up a large part (if not all) of native mammal species.
Several species of animals that inhabit Madagascar's rainforests include.... Lemurs These include the bamboo lemur, taking its name from its favorite food; the red-ruffed lemur, which practices communal care of its young; and the indri, a large lemur known for its eerie cry. Mouse Lemur These small lemurs only grow about 28cm (11 inches) long.
Can fit inside the palm of your hand
Are brown and exhibit many behaviors similar to their larger cousins
Are sometimes called dwarf lemurs Aye Aye Nocturnal lemur
Is endangered not only by rain forest habitat loss, but also by its reputation among locals as a harbinger of ill luck.
Is one of the world's most bizarre creatures with its long twig-like middle finger, huge eyes, rat-like teeth, and large bat-like ears
First classified as a rodent, uses its long middle finger as a tool for finding insects.
After tapping the tree bark, it uses its sensitive hearing to detect the movement of insect larvae.
Studies have found that the aye-aye is capable of sensing insect movement at a depth of 12 feet. Chameleon Lizard
Other classic Madagascar animals are chameleons.
These animals are small, averaging about 8 inches.
Madagascar is home to about half the world's 150 or so species of chameleons, which are small to mid-size reptiles that are famous for their ability to dramatically change colors.
Contrary to popular belief, a chameleon typically does not change colors to match its surroundings.
Instead color is usually used to convey emotions, defend territories, and communicate with mates
Although chameleons are found in many other parts of the world, the vast majority of species are found on Madagascar Island.
Although some species inhabit deserts and grasslands, most of them live in rainforests, and like lemurs, they are threatened by rainforest destruction. Reptiles
Other Madagascar reptiles include many species of harmless colubrid snakes, and some boas, such as Madagascar ground boa and Madagascar tree boa; Nile Crocodiles, four species of turtles, and many species of skinks, geckoes and iguanids. Amphibians
Madagascar also has about 300 species of frogs.
Madagascar's frogs include the colorful mantella frogs (aka Golden frogs); the less colorful Mantidactylus frogs; many species of tree frogs, and Tomato Frogs. Tomato Frog
Red frog found in the Madagascar rainforest.
Has distinctive characteristics that are very different from your average bull frog.
Is red with a whitish-yellow underbelly and tiny yellow spots around its lips.
Releases a sticky substance from its body to protect itself from predators. Insects and Spiders There are millions of species of spiders and insects.
Spiders include orb spiders, thorn spiders, trapdoor spiders, pelican spiders, wandering spiders, sac spiders, wolf spiders, tarantula spiders and many more.
Many of Madagascar's spiders, as well as many of its insects (such as butterflies, praying mantids, moths and others) also grow quite large. This is often the case with rainforest insects.  Negative Human Influence Rainforests Before Deforestation Madagascar's Rainforests Today Deforestation Madagascar's tropical rainforest have been degraded and largely deforested over the past centuries.
A lot of the problems that the rainforests face today can be traced back to the colonial period during which France colonized the island in 1896 and converted much of the forests into coffee fields.
Soil erosion rates on coffee fields are twice that of subsistence fields, and things like this, which happened as a result of clearing land for growing cash crops, began much of the deforestation that continues to this day. Deforestation... Much of the cause for the deforestation of Madagascar's tropical rainforest are due to an expanding population and economical reasons as inhabitants and the government resort to exploiting natural resources for profit, income, and subsistence.
Deforestation mostly occurs due to tavy or slash and burn agriculture, logging for timber, fuel wood and charcoal production, grazing, and cattle-ranching. Slash and Burn Agriculture Tavy, or slash and burn agriculture, is used to turn tropical rainforests in eastern Madagascar into rice fields.
An acre or more of rainforest is usually cut and then burned to create land with fertile soil so that rice can be planted.
This process is repeated a couple more times until there are no longer any nutrients in the soil and the soil erodes or the land is newly inhabited by grass and weeds. Logging Logging for timber is another negative human impact on the Madagascar's eastern rainforests.
Due to the high value of Malagasy hardwoods, which include ebony and rosewood "which may fetch $2,000 a ton in international markets", illegal logging of rainforest timber is a huge problem.
People also use the rainforest for fuel wood and charcoal.
They need these items to subsist and cook food.
In addition to cooking, large quantities of wood are used to heat their homes and provide a light source at night because there is a lack of electricity in rural areas and other poverty-stricken areas. Clearing Rainforests People clear the forests to make grazing and ranching land for their cattle and other livestock.
Urban development of structures due to population growth and road clearance for access to timber are also negative human impacts on the eastern tropical rainforests of Madagascar that contribute to its deforestation. The Canopy... Since the rate of photosynthesis of canopy trees is so high, these plants have a higher yield of fruits, seeds, flowers, and leaves which attract and support a wide diversity of animal life.
Plays an important role in regulating regional and global climate because it is the principle site of the interchange of heat, water vapor, and atmospheric gases. Forest Floor... At this level, the canopy not only blocks out sunlight, but dampers wind and rain.
The blocking of wind by the canopy makes the forest floor a calm place where only the slightest breeze blows during tropical thunderstorms.
Is one of the principle sites of decomposition, a process paramount for the continuance of the forest as a whole.
Provides support for trees responsible for the formation of the canopy. Overexploitation Of Living Resources
Madagascar's native species have been aggressively hunted and collected by people desperately seeking to provide for their families.
While it has been illegal to kill or keep lemurs as pets since 1964, lemurs are hunted today in areas where they are not protected by local taboos.
Tenrecs and carnivores are also widely hunted as a source of protein.
Reptiles and amphibians are enthusiastically collected for the international pet trade.
Chameleons, geckos, snakes, and tortoises are the most targeted.
The waters around Madagascar serve as a rich fishery and are an important source of income for villagers. Unfortunately, fishing is poorly regulated.
Foreign fishing boats encroach on artisanal fishing areas leaving locals and the marine fauna with the short end of the stick.
Sharks, sea cucumbers, and lobster may be harvested at increasingly unsustainable rates. Conservation In order to protect and conserve the remaining tropical rainforests in eastern Madagascar, the government under President Marc Ravalomanana worked to expand the area of protection for its forest, keep much of its endangered wood from the tropical rainforests off of the markets, make logging in some parts of the rainforests illegal, and expand eco-tourism in areas near and in the tropical rainforests so that the forests could be protected and the locals there wouldn't have to resort to tavy to find income. Conservation... Much of the large blocks of remaining rainforests are found in national parks.
Despite these national parks and reserves and other efforts, the likely future prospects for this ecosystem appear dim.
Only about 3 % of the land area in Madagascar is protected.
The status of protected areas isn't acceptable because national parks, reserves, and special reserves aren't doing a good job of protecting the remaining tropical rainforests due to a "lack of logistic and financial resources, poorly marked and managed boundaries, and inadequately trained staff and increasing pressure from farming communities around the reserves". Trivia Get into groups of 4-5 team members
Create a team name
The questions will based on the material we covered in class.
Points go to the first team that responds with the correct answer.
5 points for every correct answer. Name two species of animals
indigenous to Madagascar. Answer: Aye Aye
Lemur
Tomato Frog
Chameleon What is one reason deforestation
is occurring in
Madagascar's rainforests? Answer: Expanding population and
economical reasons What are the five layers of a tropical rainforest? Answer: Overstory
Canopy
Understory
Shrub layer
Forest floor What is the name of this animal? Answer: Mouse Lemur What is slash and
burn agriculture? Answer: An acre or more of rainforest is usually cut and then burned to create land with fertile soil so
that a crop can be planted. Most often, rice crops are grown. Answer: Slash and burn agriculture
Logging for timber, fuel wood and charcoal production
Grazing, and cattle ranching Name one method of
Deforestation What is one type of hardwood sought after in the illegal logging of rainforest timber? Answer: Ebony
Rosewood True or False?

Madagascar is home to as many as 12,000 plant species - 70-80% of which are endemic Answer: True Name three types of Madagascar rainforests. Answer: Lowland Rainforest
Coastal Rainforest
Montane Rainforest
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