Forest type influences population densities of nocturnal lemurs in Manompana, Northeastern Madagascar
Place of Publication
Centre for Ecosystem Management
Forest loss, fragmentation, and anthropization threaten the survival of forest species all over the world. Shifting agriculture is one of these threatening processes in Madagascar. However, when its cycle is halted and the land is left to regenerate, the resulting growth of secondary forest may provide a viable habitat for folivorous and omnivorous lemur species. We aimed to identify the response of nocturnal lemurs to different successional stages of regenerating secondary, degraded mature, and mature forest across a mosaic-type landscape. We surveyed four nocturnal lemur species (Avahi laniger, Microcebus cf. simmonsi, Allocebus trichotis, and Daubentonia madagascariensis) in four forest types of varying habitat disturbance in northeastern Madagascar. We estimated densities in mature and regenerating secondary forest for the eastern woolly lemur (Avahi laniger) and mouse lemur (Microcebus cf. simmonsi), two sympatric species with folivorous and omnivorous diets respectively. We did not estimate densities of Allocebus trichotis and Daubentonia madagascariensis owing to small sample size; however, we observed both species exclusively in mature forest. We found higher population densities of A. laniger and M. cf. simmonsi in secondary than in mature forest, showing the potential of regenerating secondary forest for lemur conservation. Several environmental factors influenced the detectability of the two lemur species. While observer and habitat type influenced detection of the eastern woolly lemur, canopy height and vine density influenced detection of mouse lemurs. Understanding how different species with different diets interact with anthropogenically impacted habitat will aid future management decisions for the conservation of primate species.