The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)


Climate change and the behavioural ecology of Propithecus coquereli in northwest Madagascar

TRAVIS S. STEFFENS, KERIANN C. MCGOOGAN and SHAWN M. LEHMAN.

Anthropology, University of Toronto

Saturday 208, Plaza Level Add to calendar

Shifts in temperature and rainfall can impact the behavioural ecology of primates. We tested the hypothesis that climate change has resulted in habitat alteration that would impact the behaviour and ecology of Propithecus coquereli, an endangered lemur species.

We conducted a 14-month study from 2007-8, documenting the behavioural ecological characteristics of four groups of Propithecus coquereli in Ampijoroa forest station, Ankarafantsika National Park, northwest Madagascar. We compared our results with a study conducted at this site in 1970/1. If there have been any changes to the climate or habitat in Ampijoroa between 1970/1 and 2007-8, Propithecus coquereli may, in turn, alter their behavioural ecological strategies. We used tree height as a proxy for habitat alteration between the two studies.

We found that mean minimum temperature differed significantly between our 2007-8 study and the 1970/1 study and that rainfall and temperature showed significant variation between 1998 and 2008. We found no significant differences in tree heights between each study. Several of the behavioural ecological variables did not show differences, but we did find significant differences in seasonal feeding heights and home range size. However, these differences may be related to known within-site variation in habitat quality or group density.

This study has shown that the climate in Ampijoroa has shifted since the 1970’s. Despite these shifts, the habitat does not appear to be greatly altered and much of the behaviour and ecology of Propithecus coquereli in Ampijoroa has remained static.

This study was funded by Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the government of Ontario, Primate Conservation, Inc., The Calgary Zoological Society, and The University of Toronto.

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