, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 47-64

Relationship Between Microhabitat Structure and Distribution of Mouse Lemurs (Microcebus spp.) in Northwestern Madagascar

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Abstract

Understanding processes affecting the distribution and abundance of organisms is a central issue in ecology and conservation biology. In northwestern Madagascar, we found an uneven distribution pattern of the golden-brown mouse lemur (Microcebus ravelobensis) and the grey mouse lemur (M. murinus). In one area (JBA) the two species lived sympatrically, whereas in another forest area (JBB) Microcebus ravelobensis occurred exclusively. To investigate whether differences in forest structure may explain this uneven distribution, we conducted a microhabitat analysis and related it to specific distribution. In JBA the habitat of Microcebus ravelobensis was characterized by a higher percentage of trees with many lianas and a higher cover of the herb layer, whereas that of M. murinus had a higher number of trees with a diameter at breast height (DBH) >10 cm. The comparison of the forest structure of the microhabitats of the two species between JBA and JBB revealed further differences. The cover of the overstory, the percentage of trees without lianas and the number of larger trees (DBH >10 cm) among the microhabitats were higher for Microcebus murinus in JBA than for M. ravelobensis in JBB whereas the microhabitats of M. ravelobensis at the two sites did not differ concerning these vegetation structures. Differences between the two species coincide with those of resources important for survival. Our results indicate the importance of microhabitat analyses for the understanding of distribution patterns of species and for successful conservation planning.