Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Adaptation to climate change will be difficult for Madagascar

Mongabay: Madagascar's high levels of endemism coupled with its extensive loss and degradation of ecosystems leave its species particularly vulnerable to climate change. A new paper evaluates these risks and sets forth conservation priorities to best maintain the ecological resilience of the island nation.

Although Madagascar has lost about 90 percent of its natural forest cover, more than 90 percent of its plants, mammals, reptiles and amphibians are unique to the island, making it a top global biodiversity hotspot. Nevertheless climate change is projected to have a big impact on the island. Models suggest that Madagascar will lose 17-50 percent of its remaining forest habitat due to climate change if plants are unable to disperse or migrate to suitable areas. The outcome could prove devastating for flora and fauna.

A new paper, published in Biology Letters, make three recommendations that could help Madagascar's biodiversity adapt to climate change: (1) restoration and protection of riverine corridor forests important for migration; (2) maintenance and restoration of connectivity among fragmented forests, especially in regions with high genetic divergence between populations across major riverine corridors; and (3) management of all remaining natural forest to maximize the potential for species migration in response to climate change. The authors, led by Lee Hannah of Conservational International, note that riverine corridors and forest fragments can serve as key migration paths and refugia for species….

A dwarf lemur depicted by Friedrich Specht in The Natural History of Animals by Carl Vogt and Friedrich Specht, 1888. Volume 1, p. 83. Found where else but Wikimedia Commons

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