The Use of an Invasive Species Habitat by a Small Folivorous Primate: Implications for Lemur Conservation in Madagascar

Eppley, Timothy M.; Donati, Giuseppe; Ramanamanjato, Jean-Baptiste; Randriatafika, Faly; Andriamandimbiarisoa, Laza N.; Rabehevitra, David; Ravelomanantsoa, Robertin; Ganzhorn, Jörg U.
November 2015
PLoS ONE;11/4/2015, Vol. 10 Issue 10, p1
Academic Journal
The lemurs of Madagascar are among the most threatened mammalian taxa in the world, with habitat loss due to shifting cultivation and timber harvest heavily contributing to their precarious state. Deforestation often leads to fragmentation, resulting in mixed-habitat matrices throughout a landscape where disturbed areas are prone to invasion by exotic plants. Our study site, the Mandena littoral forest (southeast Madagascar), is a matrix of littoral forest, littoral swamp, and Melaleuca swamp habitats. Here, Melaleuca quinquenervia has invaded the wetland ecosystem, creating a mono-dominant habitat that currently provides the only potential habitat corridor between forest fragments. We sought to understand the role of this invasive Melaleuca swamp on the behavioral ecology of a threatened, small-bodied folivore, the southern bamboo lemur (Hapalemur meridionalis). We collected botanical and behavioral data on four groups of H. meridionalis between January and December 2013. Our results confirm Melaleuca swamp as an important part of their home range: while lemurs seasonally limited activities to certain habitats, all groups were capable of utilizing this invasive habitat for feeding and resting. Furthermore, the fact that Hapalemur use an invasive plant species as a dispersal corridor increases our knowledge of their ecological flexibility, and may be useful in the conservation management of remaining threatened populations.


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