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Comparative Study
, 3 (3), 344-7

Deforestation and Apparent Extinctions of Endemic Forest Beetles in Madagascar

Comparative Study

Deforestation and Apparent Extinctions of Endemic Forest Beetles in Madagascar

Ilkka Hanski et al. Biol Lett.


Madagascar has lost about half of its forest cover since 1953 with much regional variation, for instance most of the coastal lowland forests have been cleared. We sampled the endemic forest-dwelling Helictopleurini dung beetles across Madagascar during 2002-2006. Our samples include 29 of the 51 previously known species for which locality information is available. The most significant factor explaining apparent extinctions (species not collected by us) is forest loss within the historical range of the focal species, suggesting that deforestation has already caused the extinction, or effective extinction, of a large number of insect species with small geographical ranges, typical for many endemic taxa in Madagascar. Currently, roughly 10% of the original forest cover remains. Species-area considerations suggest that this will allow roughly half of the species to persist. Our results are consistent with this prediction.


Figure 1
Figure 1
Maps showing (a) the historical sampling localities during 1875–1990, (b) our sampling localities during 2002–2006, (c) the sampling localities of 21 apparently extinct species apart from H. undatus and (d) the localities for H. undatus prior to 1900 (grey circles), during 1901–1950 (open triangles) and during 1951–1973 (black squares). Localities are mostly shown with resolution of 0.5°.
Figure 2
Figure 2
Plots showing whether a species has been collected by us (open symbols) or not (closed symbols, ‘apparently extinct’ species), depending on relative forest loss within the range of the species plotted (a) against the last year when the species was collected prior to our sampling and (b) against the past commonness of the species (PC1).

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