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Macalester College

Publication Date

Spring 2009

Program Name

Madagascar: Ecology and Conservation


This study sought to verify claims made in a recently published paper by Thomas Elmqvist that certain portions of Madagascar’s spiny forest are rapidly regenerating. The study took place in the forest around the village of Manavy located in Central Antandroy, where historical and current images of the land cover do not collaborate Elmqvist’s conclusions. Using maps derived from remote sensed images of the area, quadrats were established within Elmqvist’s ‘regenerating’ area. Within these sites detailed vegetative analyses of species composition and regenerative process were performed as well as qualitative assessment of disturbance level. The results of this study indicate that density of plots as ascertained from remote sensed images did not correspond level of perturbation. The vegetative surveys showed extreme heterogeneity in the forest due to both natural and human causes, however, attributing this heterogeneity to any specific factor proved difficult. In light of these findings, many of Elmqvist’s methods appear inappropriate and his finally interpretation of the landscape as undergoing extensive regeneration unlikely. Future study that sought to untangle the web of human and natural forces informing forest quality is necessary before a statement about the regenerative capacity of the forest can be made.


Forest Biology


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