Plant Diversity ›› 2019, Vol. 41 ›› Issue (02): 118-123.DOI: 10.1016/j.pld.2018.09.005

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Planting position and shade enhance native seedling performance in forest restoration for an endangered malagasy plant

Cyprien Miandrimananaa, J. Leighton Reidb, Tahiry Rivoharisona, Chris Birkinshawa   

  1. a Missouri Botanical Garden, Madagascar Research and Conservation Program, BP3391, Antananarivo 101, Madagascar;
    b Center for Conservation and Sustainable Development, Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St Louis, MO 63110, USA
  • Received:2018-02-16 Revised:2018-09-17 Online:2019-04-25 Published:2019-05-18
  • Contact: Chris Birkinshaw

Abstract: The critically endangered tree Schizolaena tampoketsana is confined to a few diminished and degraded forest fragments on the Malagasy highlands. This habitat is vulnerable to loss due to frequent fires in the surrounding grassland that threaten to spread into the forest. One of these fragments is the focus a conservation project and here the managers aim to conserve S. tampoketsana by restoring its forest habitat to its former extent as evidenced by remnant woody plants. To inform this activity the survival and early-stage growth of seedlings of four locally native tree species were compared under contrasting conditions of proximity to the remaining forest and shade. After 12 months, seedlings of three species (Baronia taratana, Eugenia pluricymosa, Uapaca densifolia) survived better and experienced improved growth in height in grassland close to the existing forest rather than distant from it, and two survived better with shade rather than unshaded. A number of mechanisms could explain these results including reduced exposure to desiccating sunlight and winds and better soil and greater water availability close to the forest. The seedlings of one species (Nuxia capitata) survived well under all conditions. This study suggests that reforestation in these dry highlands is most feasible adjacent to remnant forest fragments and in microhabitats that minimize water loss, though young plants of some tree species may be capable of surviving in harsher conditions.

Key words: Grassland, Fire, Forest restoration, Local environment, Schizolaena tampoketsana