, Volume 29, Issue 6, pp 1607-1656

Lemur Diversity in Madagascar

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Abstract

A basic understanding of the taxonomy, diversity, and distributions of primates is essential for their conservation. This review of the status of the taxonomy of lemurs is based on a 5-d workshop entitled “Primate Taxonomy for the New Millennium,” held at the Disney Institute, Orlando, Florida, in February 2000. The aim is not to present a taxonomic revision, but to review our current understanding of the diversity and current and past ranges of lemurs and indicate where there is controversy, discrepancy, or lack of knowledge. Our goal therefore is to provide a baseline for future taxonomic investigation, as well as a clearer focus for research and conservation priorities. We here focus on the lemurs of Madagascar and recognize 5 families, 15 genera, and 99 species and subspecies. We list 39 species of lemurs described since 2000: 2 dwarf lemurs, Cheirogaleus; 11 mouse lemurs, Microcebus; a giant mouse lemur, Mirza; a bamboo lemur, Hapalemur; 17 sportive lemurs, Lepilemur; and 7 woolly lemurs, Avahi. Taxonomic revisions have resulted in the resurrection of a further 9 taxa. However, the figures do not represent the total diversity of Malagasy lemurs because more new species are being identified via new field studies and accompanying genetic research, and should be described in the near future.