Birds of the Madagascar Region
by Dr Roger Safford
The Malagasy region consists of the ‘island-continent’ of Madagascar together with its associated islets; the archipelagos of Seychelles, the Comoros and the Mascarenes; and a scattering of small, more isolated islands. The region has an endemic avifauna like no other in the world; this is particularly true of Madagascar, which separated from Africa well over 100 million years ago and has the distinction of hosting three endemic Orders of birds, although one of these – the elephant birds – is extinct. The geological and evolutionary histories of the islands and their birds, supported by molecular analysis of many of the species, reveal the patterns of arrival and diversification of the region’s extraordinary avifauna, from the most ancient endemics to recent colonists. The talk will outline this history, along with some recent discoveries on the natural history of the endemic species, and provide a brief tour of the region’s main habitats and conservation issues.