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

The influence of the forest edge on activity patterns and postural behaviour of Propithecus coquereli in northwest Madagascar


Anthropology, University of Toronto

Thursday 8:30-8:45, Galleria South Add to calendar

Habitat edges and the resulting edge effects can cause changes in the abundance and distribution of food resources which can influence animal activity patterns. The objective of our study was to determine if and how forest edges influences primate behavioural patterns.

We conducted full-day follows of four groups of Propithecus coquereli in Ampijoroa, Ankarafantsika National Park, NW Madagascar - two that ranged less than 1-km from a forest edge and two that ranged greater than 1-km from the edge. We compared activity budgets and postural behaviors between the groups.

We found no significant differences in activity budgets. Groups did show differences in the spatial pattern of behaviours based on a join-count analysis, however. One of the groups closest to the edge exhibited a clumped pattern in feeding locations. This could be indicative of microhabitat differences in food distribution between the group ranges. Groups also showed differences in substrate size and vertical location used while traveling - groups nearer to the edge used smaller substrates less frequently and travelled in a climbing posture more frequently than groups in the interior. This may allow for increased vigilance in the face of potential hunting pressures.

Although the groups did not differ in their overall activity patterns, there were more nuanced differences that may reflect differences in resource distribution and could be edge-related. The results of this study highlight how habitat alterations and edge effects can impact the behaviour and ecology of a primate species.

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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