Monitoring Program Activities

monitoring team presentation The Monitoring Team collect systematic data on climate, aspects of biodiversity in and around the Reserve, and the socio-economy of the Ankazombalala Commune. Twelve permanent transects (100 m x 10 m each) are in place, distributed between the riverine forest and spiny forest, and between fully protected and sustainably used areas of the Reserve.  This facilitates comparisons between habitat types, and assessments of the impact of full protection.  All trees and shrubs in the transects have been recorded and identified, with herbarium specimens stored at the Bezà Mahafaly Museum.  Leaf, flower, and fruit cycles of 300 individuals belonging to 30 tree and liana species are monitored along two transects every two weeks.  Transect walks every four weeks are used to track the presence at species level of amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals.  The Monitoring Team also supports in-depth research on the two large diurnal lemurs in the forest, and close monitoring of the marked population of radiated tortoises. The Monitoring Team Database is maintained at the Field Station, with back-up copies of online information and original field notes at ESSA-Forêts, in Antananarivo.  Collected specimens are accessioned into the Bezà Mahafaly Museum collections, located at the Field Station.  These collections include a herbarium, with voucher specimens of all trees and shrubs in the transects;  a comprehensive collection of Lepidoptera and Hymenoptera;  and a growing assemblage of osteological materials, from skeletal remains found in the forest and the complete skeletons of animals found dead.  The Museum’s Exhibition Center includes many objects representing Mahafaly material culture.  A small botanical garden located nearby the Museum has 110 species of local trees and shrubs. In 1996, 2004, and 2011, household surveys were carried out sampling all the villages and hamlets around the Reserve. Results from the first five years of the Monitoring Program were published in  2001 (available in hard copy through ESSA-Forêts).  A special issue of Malagasy Nature was published in 2016 that reports on the long-term ecological and socio-economic monitoring at Bezà Mahafaly Special Reserve.  The intention is to make available detailed long-term field records covering up to 25 years of information.  Terms and conditions for access to these records are under development.