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


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

CLAUDIA CARBONE1, ROSE MILLER2 and MITCHELL IRWIN3.

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.