, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 239-261
Date: 04 Apr 2006

Direct and Indirect Impacts of Raptor Predation on Lemurs in Southeastern Madagascar

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I calculated rates of predation by 2 species of diurnal raptors, Polyboroides radiatus and Accipiter henstii, on the lemur community of Ranomafana National Park, Madagascar from 2700 h of observation and 470 prey deliveries at 7 nests of each hawk species. The 2 hawks consumed 7 of 12 lemurs found in the park region, with a body mass of 63–3500 g and including diurnal and nocturnal species of all group sizes. Calculations of predation rates indicate that raptor predation is a significant cause of mortality for lemur populations relative to other causes. Minimum rates of predation by Polyboroides radiatus and Accipiter henstii on Microcebus rufus, Cheirogaleus major, Avahi laniger, Hapalemur griseus, Eulemur fulvus rufus, Eulemur rubriventer, and Varecia variegata resulted in the raptors removing of 1–21% of the population per yr, similar to other rates of predation on primates documented in the literature. Modeling of lemur populations under varying levels of raptor predation pressure that I calculated found that one may attribute 3–17% of adult, juvenile, and infant mortality for nocturnal lemurs and 2–66% of adult, juvenile, and infant mortality for diurnal lemurs to diurnal raptor predation. Raptor predation may significantly depress intrinsic growth rates and carrying capacity of Avahi laniger, Hapalemur griseus, Eulemur fulvus rufus, Eulemur rubriventer, and Varecia variegata owing to their low fecundities, long life spans, and long age to sexual maturation. Nocturnal lemurs may best avoid predation by diurnal raptors by exhibiting a solitary lifestyle and cryptic antipredator tactics, whereas, diurnal lemurs benefit less by increasing group size than by using specific antipredator tactics.