|Categories||Education, Mammals, Primates|
|Date||4 Sep 2017|
To protect any endangered species, it is essential to understand their basic behaviors and ecological role. This information is greatly lacking for the endangered crowned lemur (Eulemur coronatus). We will address the knowledge gap concerning crowned lemur habitat structure, resources within their various habitat types, and how anthropogenic disturbances impact their behavior and health. The ultimate goal of this research is to collaborate with Malagasy locals to conduct an assessment of behavior, physiology, and habitat structure of crowned lemurs to aid in the establishment of a replicable, long-term monitoring and conservation program. Three specific objectives will be used to achieve this goal:
1) Use novel tracking technology to determine if crowned lemurs shift their social and spatial behavior in fragmented habitats.
2) Identify whether social grouping patterns and habitat type influence stress hormone (cortisol) levels in crowned lemurs.
3) Determine habitat structure, food availability, and model land cover of crowned lemur territories in the Daraina region.
By working with local guides and representatives from Fanamby (local NGO), we will combine these three objectives to gain an understanding of crowned lemur group dynamics and foraging needs. Connecting crowned lemur spatial behavior to their physiological responses can help us understand the impacts of land management practices. Through understanding crowned lemur stress responses, we can determine the degree of fragmentation crowned lemurs can handle before declines in their physiological health occur. Knowledge of this threshold will allow us to focus restoration efforts and forest protection in appropriate habitat types and locations. Overall, by understanding how degree of habitat fragmentation influences lemur distribution patterns across their landscape and what level of habitat quality crowned lemurs require to remain in a healthy physiological state, we can ensure that their territory is maintained at the level necessary for their sustained health.
Crowned lemurs are also threatened with an unsustainable level of hunting and logging of their habitat. To deal with these issues, we are partnering with Madagascar National Parks (MNP) to implement an Eco-Schools Program in northern Madagascar. The program will focus on introducing local children to the incredible biodiversity in their backyards, creating awareness, action, and accountability concerning environmental sustainability. Since crowned lemurs are the most hunted lemur species in Daraina, the Eco-Schools Program will be the perfect opportunity to present crowned lemurs as an important endemic species, and inspire communities to take responsibility for their continued existence.
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