International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 95–115

Feeding Ecology of Propithecus diadema in Forest Fragments and Continuous Forest


DOI: 10.1007/s10764-007-9222-9

Cite this article as:
Irwin, M.T. Int J Primatol (2008) 29: 95. doi:10.1007/s10764-007-9222-9


Forest fragmentation is viewed as a serious threat to primates, yet whether or not it can disrupt food resources and cause energetic stress remains largely untested. I present the results of a 12-mo study of the feeding ecology of Propithecus diadema in fragmented and continuous forest at Tsinjoarivo, eastern Madagascar. Two continuous forest groups had higher dietary diversity and ate more fleshy fruit, but during the dry season, diversity was reduced and they relied heavily on mistletoe (Bakerella clavata). In contrast, 2 groups in fragments employed the lean season strategy of eating mistletoe year-round; the fruiting tree species that sustain continuous forest groups through the rainy season were largely absent. As expected, intersite dietary overlap was highest in the dry season. The level of specialization was high: fragment groups devoted 30–40% of feeding time to Bakerella clavata, compared to 28–30% in continuous forest. The major characteristic of Bakerella clavata enabling it to be an important fallback or staple resource, or both, is its extended phenology. The difference in resource utilization between sites may have important implications for nutritional status, as well as ranging and social behavior, largely owing to the small size and high abundance of feeding patches of Bakerella. Understanding resource shifts in fragments can shed light on socioecological questions by providing comparisons between continuous forest and fragment populations with differing diets and resource distributions. In addition, understanding dietary shifts in fragments can aid in species-specific conservation efforts, while contributing to a better understanding of the considerable interspecific variability of primates in responses to fragmentation.


conservationdiademed sifakasdietforest fragmentationmistletoePropithecus diadema

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Interdepartmental Doctoral Program in Anthropological Sciences, Department of AnthropologyStony Brook UniversityStony BrookUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiologyMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada