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Vegetation and Urbanization on Majuro Atoll, Marshall Islands

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Title:Vegetation and Urbanization on Majuro Atoll, Marshall Islands
Authors:Sabath, Michael D.
Date Issued:Oct 1977
Publisher:University of Hawaii Press
Citation:Sabath MD. 1977. Vegetation and urbanization on Majuro Atoll, Marshall Islands. Pac Sci 31(4): 321-333.
Abstract:The urban and nonurban vegetation on the Micronesian atoll
of Majuro is described, including changes in forest canopy, understory shrubs,
yards, and cultural features since urbanization began in 1944. Currently, the
nonurban areas are covered with Cocos nucifera (coconut) groves mixed with
smaller Artocarpus altilis (breadfruit) groves, which were probably established
in the late 1800s. Indigenous vegetation is limited to a narrow band along the
ocean or lagoon shoreline, or as minor understory species in the Cocos-Artocarpus
groves. A United States military base was established in 1944 on
three eastern islands of the atoll (Uliga, Dalap, and Djarrit). This has subsequently
been developed into a major administrative and commercial center
for the Marshall Islands. Urbanization on Uliga, Dalap, and Djarrit has
resulted in reduction of tree canopy; establishment of extensive yards with
grasses, herbs, and sedges; and reduction of many indigenous and aboriginally
introduced understory species. Nevertheless, some aboriginally introduced and
indigenous species remain in the urban areas as important species (Cocos,
Artocarpus, and Tournefortia), with many being actively propagated. Ornamental
species, which have expanded in importance, especially in the shrub
layer, consist primarily of species recorded in Laura village prior to urbanization.
The urban plant community is a mixture of indigenous, aboriginally
introduced, and recently introduced species. Future urban expansion is
predicted with commercial and residential development replacing horticultural
forests along the southern islands of the atoll.
Appears in Collections: Pacific Science Volume 31, Number 4, 1977

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