It has been suggested that the average canopy height of Madagascar's lowland rain forests is shorter and the average tree density is greater than in other tropical lowland rain forests of the world. The cause was hypothesized to be frequent cyclone disturbances. We compared the structure of the lowland rain forests in Madagascar to the structure described in published accounts of other tropical lowland rain forests. We found that the eastern coastal lowland forests of Madagascar have short canopy heights relative to that of many other lowland tropical rain forests, and that these Malagasy forests also have relatively high tree densities. On a worldwide basis, there is a significant correlation between short forest canopies and occurrence of tropical cyclones. The association between high tree density and occurrence of tropical cyclones is valid for Africa, but the pattern does not hold up globally.
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Vol. 35 • No. 2