Madagascar Spiny Thickets Habitat

Lemur catta is an Endangered taxon near-endemic to the Madagascar spiny thickets ecoregion. While the island of Madagascar is notable for exceptional levels of endemic plants and animals, the spiny thicket is particularly distinctive with 95 percent of the plant species endemic to the ecoregion. Members of the endemic Didiereaceae family present dominate the thicket, which have similar xeric adaptations to New World cacti, such as small leaves and spines, but with the Madagascar spiny thickets displaying more woody rather than succulent characteristics.

There are two major rock types in the ecoregion; the Tertiary limestone of the Mahafaly Plateau and the unconsolidated red sands of the central south and southeast. This geology corresponds to a major division in the habitat. The taller, dense dry forest on the sandy soils is dominated by Didieria madagascariensis, and the more xeric adapted vegetation on the calcareous plateau around Lake Tsimanampetsotsa is characterized by dwarf species.

The fauna of the ecoregion is also distinctive and includes three strictly endemic mammals, the White-footed sportive lemur (Lepilemur leucopus), Grandidier’s mongoose (Galidictis grandidieri) and Microcebus griseorufus. Near-endemic mammals include the Large-eared tenrec (Geogale aurita), and the Lesser hedgehog tenrec (Echinops telfairi). Six other lemurs are found only in spiny thicket and the adjacent Succulent Woodlands ecoregion, Red-tailed sportive lemur (Lepilemur ruficaudatus), Verreaux's sifaka (Propithecus verreauxi), the Ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta), Forked-marked lemur (Phaner furcifer), Fat-tailed dwarf lemur (Cheirogaleus medius), and Gray mouse lemur (Microcebus murinus). The mongoose species is considered endangered on the current IUCN Red Data List, and Verreaux’s sifaka and the Ring-tailed lemur are classified as Vulnerable. Some mammals have highly restricted ranges within the ecoregion. Grandidier’s mongoose (Galidictis grandidieri) was described as recently as 1986 and has a restricted range around Lake Tsimanampetsotsa. Subfossils have been identified from a cave near Itampolo, south of Lake Tsimanampetsotsa.

Species of reptiles endemic to the ecoregion include the chameleons Furcifer belalandaensis and F. antimena. Further, the Madagascan spider tortoise (Pyxis arachnoides), and the Radiated tortoise (Geochelone radiata) are found in this ecoregion and the zone to the north, the succulent woodlands. The Madagascar ground boa (Acrantophis dumerilii) is found in this ecoregion, although not exclusively. Many more species are endemic to the ecoregion including the rock dwelling iguanids Oplurus saxicola and O. fihereniensis, the Day gecko (Phelsuma breviceps), nocturnal geckos Ebenavia maintimainty and Matoatoa brevipes, and the snake Liophidium chabaudi.

There are a number of amphibian taxa present within the ecoregion, the totality of which are: Ansouhy tomato frog (Dyscophus insularis); Betsileo Madagascar frog (Mantidactylus betsileanus); Brown rainfrog (Scaphiophryne brevis); Dumeril's bright-eyed frog (Boophis tephraeomystax); Madagascar bullfrog (Laliostoma labrosum); Mascarene grassland frog (Ptychadena mascareniensis); the Endangered Blue-legged mantella (Mantella expectata); and the Goudot's bright-eyed frog (Boophis goudotii).

There are eight bird species endemic to the ecoregion and an additional two bird taxa that live only on the western drier side of the island. Endemic species include Verreaux's coua (Coua verreauxi), running coua (Coua cursor), Lafresnaye’s vanga (Xenopirostris xenopirostris), red-shouldered vanga (Calicalicus rufocarpalis), Archibold’s newtonia (Newtonia archiboldi), and littoral rock-thrush (Monticola imerinus). Some of these endemics are quite restricted in their geographical range. For example, two endemic species are known only from a narrow coastal strip on the northwest edge of the ecoregion. They are subdesert mesite (Monias benschi) and long-tailed ground roller (Uratelornis chimaera). Each of these species belong to monospecific genera and are representatives of two of the five families endemic to Madagascar. Another, the recently described red-shouldered vanga, is known only from the Toliara region. The Madagascar plover (Charadrius thoracicus) is near-endemic to this ecoregion, but is also found along the west coast into the Succulent Woodlands and the Dry Deciduous Forest ecoregions, while the Thamnornis warbler (Thamnornis chloropetoides) extends only slightly outside this ecoregion into the Succulent Woodlands ecoregion.

The Red-shouldered vanga and Long-tailed ground roller are recorded as Vulnerable species on the recent IUCN Red List of Threatened species.

  • Ganzhorn, J.U., B. Rakotosamimanana, L. Hannah, J. Hough, L. Iyer, S. Olivieri, S. Rajaobelina, C. Rodstrom, G. Tilkin. 1997. Priorities for biodiversity conservation in Madagascar. Primate Report 48-1, Germany.
  • World Wildlife Fund and C.MIchael Hogan. 2015. Madagascar spiny thickets. Encyclopedia of Earth. National Council for Science and Environment. Washington DC
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© World Wildlife Fund & C.Michael Hogan

Supplier: C. Michael Hogan


Article rating from 1 person

Average rating: 5.0 of 5

Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Didierea madagascariensis

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)


Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Didierea madagascariensis

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)


Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5


Didierea madagascariensis

Didierea madagascariensis, commonly known as the Octopus tree,[2] is a species of Didiereaceae endemic to the spiny thickets of southwestern Madagascar.[1] It was first described scientifically by the French botanist Henri Ernest Baillon in 1880.[3] The type species of the genus Didierea, it is a densely spiny succulent and can grow up to 10 metres (33 ft) tall.[4]


  1. ^ a b Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
  2. ^ Couzens, Dominic (2008). Top 100 Birding Sites of the World. Berkeley, California: University of California Press. p. 166. ISBN 0-520-25932-7. 
  3. ^ Baillon, Henri Ernest (1880). "Sur le Didierra". Bulletin Mensuel de la Société Linnéenne de Paris (in French): 258–259. 
  4. ^ Dixon, R. (1995). "The Didiereaceae of southern Madagascar". Aloe 32 (3/4): 72–73. ISSN 0002-6301. 
Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Source: Wikipedia


Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5


EOL content is automatically assembled from many different content providers. As a result, from time to time you may find pages on EOL that are confusing.

To request an improvement, please leave a comment on the page. Thank you!