The 84th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2015)

Resource Use By Aye-Ayes in Small Forest Fragments in Eastern Madagascar


1Department of Anthropology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 2Schreyer Honors College, Pennsylvania State University, 3Department of Anthropology, Northern Illinois University

March 28, 2015 , Gateway Ballroom 2/3/4/5 Add to calendar

Aye-ayes (Daubentonia madagascariensis), elusive but widespread in Madagascar, are known for their ability to live in close proximity to humans. At the high altitude site of Tsinjoarivo (east-central Madagascar, 19.7°S, 47.8°E), aye-ayes have been camera-trapped and their feeding traces regularly observed in small forest fragments near primary continuous forest. They presumably cross between fragments, exploiting grubs of wood-boring insects. Understanding the degree to which they compete for resources with humans is of critical importance to their continued survival in such habitats. Both humans and aye-ayes use dead trees; humans for firewood and aye-ayes for grub extraction.

We documented aye-aye feeding traces in the forest fragments at Tsinjoarivo from June 11-23 2014, using two transect samples in which we identified tree species, and measured and estimated their time since death. In a larger sample (10 meters left and right of trail), we found 316 aye-aye feeding traces on 29 species of tree and 1 species of bamboo, all of which indicated grub extraction. Trees had an average diameter of 13.96cm, and an average estimated age since death of 9.04 years. In a smaller sample (5 meters right of trail), we recorded all dead trees and traces of both aye-ayes and humans. Both aye-ayes and humans are selective in their use of dead trees; they did not use them randomly with respect to tree occurrence. Importantly, trees used by Malagasy were not preferred by aye-ayes, indicating that Malagasy people and aye-ayes may not be competing for use of the same tree species.