Madagascar, the world’s fourth largest island, is located off the southeastern coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean. Because it is isolated from neighboring continents, almost all of its plant and animal species are found nowhere else on Earth.
In southwestern Madagascar, plants have adapted to a dry desert-like climate. These unique plants are so peculiar they cannot be classified into common classes like desert or forest. Many species there have small leaves and spines and can retain water very well—characteristics of succulents that are typical in deserts. They also have tall trunks, appearing more like trees. So the vegetation in this region often is named Madagascar Spiny Thicket.
This ecoregion, which extends across southern and southwestern Madagascar, has a long dry season. Most of the rain falls from October to April, but rainfall amounts can be erratic. The plants’ unusual adaptations allow them to survive the long dry periods. But this ecoregion is experiencing rapid deforestation, which is evident in this Landsat series.
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