project news

Unique to Madagascar: Survey brings exciting findings

News item submitted by Frontier
News item dated 1 Jun 2009


I don’t think there is anywhere else in the world quite like Madagascar. Crammed full with weird and wonderful creatures including over three hundred species of frog, half the world’s chameleons and an amazing array of plant life, Madagascar is one of the planet’s most bio-diverse places and a privilege for Frontier to study. 

So it’s onwards and upwards as Frontier continues to examine the amphibian and reptile species in the northern tip of Madagascar, recently with exciting findings.

The Madagascar Forest team surveyed three areas in the extreme north of the island, Ampombofofo (western dry forest and coastal forest), Orangea and Montagne De Français. The three regions researched were large patches of fairly undisturbed forest located outside protected areas; to identify species which do not receive any protection from the safe havens of reserves.

The Ampombofofo survey was particularly exciting as species counts had not been taken in the region before; therefore the data provided new records of all the species found. Frontier were surprised to find a total of fifty-five different reptile and amphibian (herpetofauna) species in the region, a whopping eighty-nine percent of them endemic to Madagascar (only found in Madagascar).

One of these species was the Green Mantella (Mantella viridis) frog, which Frontier were delighted to discover is currently inhabiting forty-two different locations in the survey area. Listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Red List, these marble green coloured hoppers were previously thought confined to only a few locations. However, after Frontier found populations in a number of locations, we are optimistic the frogs are expanding their horizons. Frontier-Madagascar will continue to record any additional findings, and are hoping to re-evaluate the status of these Greenies in the future.

The survey in Orangea also brought interesting news with the identification of twenty-five diverse herpetofaunal species, eighty-eight percent of them endemic to Madagascar. The majority of species found in Montagne De Français are also endemic to the island.

The discovery of so many endemic species in the three regions has encouraged Frontier to pursue their efforts to show the areas require greater protection. The next step is to combine the data with existing biodiversity literature and assess any conservation threats facing certain species.

Read more about our Madagascar forest project