Island Biogeography – Madagascar

The island of Madagascar began to split from continental Africa during the Jurassic period, approximately 135 million years ago! By 70 million years ago, it was completely separated from the continent. This separation has allowed for extensive amounts of adaptive radiation. This is a process in which organisms diversify rapidly into a multitude of new forms that can exploit different environmental niches.

There are both positives and negatives to island-living:

+ it’s all yours!

competition

limited resources

big storms (can be detrimental on an island)

+ adaptive radiation

Madagascar has diverse flora and fauna due to this unique island biogeography. Just to give you an idea of the great diversity on Madagascar:

PLANTS

– 9 species Baobob Tree

– cactus-like forest

– 13 palm tree species

– 7 species of ebony

MAMMALS

– 11 genera of insectivores

– 7 genera of viveriids

– 7 genera of rodents

– 26 species of bats (1/3 unique here)

NO cats, dogs, rodents, megafauna, poisonous snakes (how lucky, right?)

Lemuriforms (= tooth-comb primates) of Madagascar:

– Cheirogaleids

– Lemurids

– Indriids

– Lepilemurids

– Daubentoniids

VERSUS Africa/Asia:

– Galagids

-Lorisids

Crazy right? Think about the land mass differences between these!

Unfortunately, with all of this beautiful and unique flora and fauna, islands tend to have a higher extinction rate. In general, living on an island means: a smaller land mass, less food resources, small population size, and an increased risk of extinction upon the arrival of alien species.

It is extremely important for researchers, scientists, community members, and others to help contribute to conservation efforts here.

If you want to read more about Madagascar, click here!

Information about a great NGO in Madagascar

Post content via “Where the Wild Things Were”, course at Northern Illinois University taught by Dr. Dan Gebo

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