Grass survey of the Itremo Massif records endemic central highland grasses
Despite the substantial area covered by grasslands in Madagascar (65%), the taxonomy of the grasses (Poaceae), which represent the main plant component of these vegetation types, is still understudied. Inventories and detailed specimen identification work from 1 2 localities in the Itremo Massif Protected Area allowed us to compile a list of grasses present in the area. In total, members of eight subfamilies, 56 genera, and 99 species have been recorded from the Itremo Massif. Grasslands cover 75% of the Itremo Massif Protected Area and are dominated by Panicoideae (65%) and by C4 plants. The genera Eragrostis and Panicum, with nine and eight species respectively, are the best represented genera in Itremo. Eragrostis betsileensis and Tristachya betsileensis are the two species known to be local endemics. Twenty species are endemic to the central highlands, and a further 1 4 species are restricted to Madagascar. Five ecological groups of grasses were identified in the Itremo Massif: shade species in gallery forests, open wet area species, fire grasses, anthropogenic disturbance associated grasses and rock-dwelling grasses. Grasslands of the Itremo Massif are likely to be at least partly natural as shown by their richness in terms of endemic and native grass species. Conservation of such grasslands is thus an important issue, not only for grasses but for all species that inhabit these open canopy habitats.