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

Habitat quality and behavioral ecology of the Northern sportive lemur (Lepilemur septentrionalis)


1Department of Environment and Resources, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership, Antananarivo, Madagascar, 3Center for Conservation and Research, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, 4Department of Anthropology, University of Wisconsin-Madison

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

Comparisons of the behavioral ecology of primates living in different habitat qualities are critical for evaluating a species’ diet and behavioral plasticity. Understanding this intraspecific variation is fundamental to the development of conservation strategies for primates threatened with habitat loss. From June to July 2013 we conducted a study of four Northern sportive lemurs (Lepilemur septentrionalis) living in different forest fragments in Montagne des Français, Madagascar. We investigated habitat use, feeding ecology, and ranging behavior to describe individual activity budget and diets, and to relate individual differences in these behaviors to variation in habitat quality. Variations in number of anthropogenic disturbance types, tree density, species diversity, total basal area, and presence of an invasive species, Lantana camara, were indicative of the degree of habitat degradation. The percentage of time feeding was only slightly higher for individuals living in more degraded habitat than those in less degraded habitat. There was no difference in the variety of food items consumed, but the percentage of time consuming different items varied. Individuals in more degraded habitat spent a lower percentage of time consuming leaves and a considerably higher percentage of time consuming fruit. Furthermore, the home range size was larger for individuals in the more degraded habitat. These preliminary data suggest that L. septentrionalis in more degraded habitats altereded their behavior by incorporating more fruit into their diet and increasing their home range size. These results are encouraging, as they indicate that L. septentrionalis is able to live in a variety of habitat types.

Our research was supported by the Primate Action Fund of Conservation International.