The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)


Introduced mammal predation of wild lemurs at Bezà Mahafaly Special Reserve, Southwestern Madagascar: An assessment of predator scat samples

MICHAEL J. STRINDEN1, MICHELLE L. SAUTHER1, FRANK P. CUOZZO1,2 and JACKY I.A. YOUSSOUF3.

1Department of Anthropology, University of Colorado-Boulder, 2Department of Anthropology, University of North Dakota, 3Department of Biology, University of Toliara

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The lemurs of Madagascar rank among the world's most endangered primates, due in part to two millennia of human activity. An understudied aspect of human actions on lemur survival is the role of introduced predators. Domestic dogs and cats, in addition to the Indian civet, have been known to prey upon the lemurs at Bezà Mahafaly Special Reserve (BMSR). To date, the impact of introduced predators has not been systematically studied at this site.

To assess the impact of introduced predators on this faunal community, monthly scat samples were collected October 2008 through June 2009, spanning both wet and dry seasons. Scats (n = 37) were identified to predator by size and morphology of the fecal specimen. Samples were dissected using a binocular scope with remains identified to broad faunal categories. Wild cat scats were most prevalent (68%), followed by civet and dog. Vertebrate prey (including rodents and lemurs) was more frequent in the dry season, with insects and plants being common across both seasons. Cats show higher counts of vertebrate prey than the other predators, with one cat sample containing a femoral distal epiphysis from an immature ring-tailed lemur.

Given the existence of Lemur catta remains in the samples we can infer that introduced predators are impacting the ecology of primates at BMSR, especially during the dry season. The presence of young lemur material indicates the potential threat of introduced predators on immature lemurs in particular, corresponding with previous observations of predation events by felids at BMSR.

Funding: University of Colorado, University of North Dakota, Margot Marsh Biodiversity Foundation, International Primatological Society, National Science Foundation BCS-0922465.

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