Department of Social Sciences, Oxford Brookes University
Saturday All day, Park Concourse
The littoral forests on sand of south-eastern Madagascar are among the hottest hotspots in the country because of threats represented by a large-scale mining project and forest exploitation due to anthropogenic encroachment. The southern-most forest fragment, Petriky (~920ha), represents a unique transitional ecosystem between the wet and spiny forest and currently lacks systematic lemur studies. QIT Madagascar Minerals proposes to mine Petriky, but a conservation zone of ~120ha in the core of the fragment. In this paper, we compared habitat structure and density of Microcebus murinus between the proposed conservation zone and the rest of Petriky to rapidly assess the suitability of the zone to preserve Petriky’s biodiversity. From April to July 2012, ten 1km transects (5 in the conservation area and 5 in the unprotected area) were walked four times each. The data were then analysed via the software DISTANCE 6.0. Vegetation was assessed with 20 plots (20x50m) and a line-intercept technique used to estimate canopy cover. We collected 180 M. murinus sightings resulting in density values of 4.8 ind/ha (3.0-7.4) in the unprotected zone and 6.5 ind/ha (4.6-9.3) in the conservation zone. Two-thousand-forty individual trees were measured representing 72 species from 42 families. The conservation zone had more trees, taller average height, and better canopy cover. When compared to other forest types, Petriky showed intermediate lemur density between the dry and the wet forest. To summarize, there is still a large population of M.murinus in the Petriky conservation zone which seems to contain a preserved habitat structure.