20 Apr 2023
Impacts of Habitat Fragmentation on Plant-Frugivore Mutualistic Networks in Madagascar’s Rainforests
Human-driven habitat fragmentation poses a critical challenge to the long-term survival of lemur populations. It often results in the creation of an inhospitable environment at the forest edges. To establish conservation strategies to prevent further species loss, especially for the conservation of vulnerable species with high extinction risk in fragmented landscapes, we need a better understanding of species responses to habitat fragmentation and the factors that may influence such responses. We aim to address that by focusing on eight endangered lemur species in an eastern evergreen Malagasy rainforest; four of these lemur species are classified as Critically Endangered (Black-and-white Ruffed Lemur, Diademed Sifaka, Indri and Greater Bamboo Lemur) and four as Vulnerable (Red-bellied Lemur, Brown Lemur, Eastern Lesser Bamboo Lemur and Weasel Sportive Lemur).
To reach this main goal, we will:
(1) determine the densities of each lemur species along an edge-interior gradient at Ihofa forest.
(2) identify how four critical ecological factors and processes change along the gradient: availability of critical resources and ecosystem productivity, anthropogenic pressures, species interactions, and environmental conditions and
(3) demonstrate how differences in these factors and processes influence the presence and abundance of each of the eight lemur-species along the edge-interior gradient.
We will also predict lemur populations in the site over time. Data will be collected through field surveys along edge-interior transects of 3 km, animal survey, phenological monitoring, measure of plant traits and ecosystem productivity, measure of environmental conditions (including air temperature and moisture, light intensity, and soil moisture). These data will be used in statistical and mechanistic modelling to address each objective. This project will provide important insights into understanding the vulnerability of lemur species to habitat fragmentation. These can be used to prepare strategies for an effective conservation of these lemur species, especially for the populations living in fragmented landscapes.
Header: Varecia variegata.