Ecological Determinants of Malabar Slender Loris (Loris lydekkerianus malabaricus, Cabrera 1908) Occupancy and Abundance in Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary, Western Ghats, India

Abstract

Precise knowledge of a species’ habitat requirements is essential for its conservation. Very little information exists on the habitat requirements of the Malabar slender loris (Loris lydekkerianus malabaricus), a nocturnal primate, making it difficult to formulate conservation action plans. The goal of this study was to evaluate the ecological determinants of t he Malabar slender loris at the Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary, Kerala, India. We conducted surveys in a 1-km2 area in the southwest end of the sanctuary. We overlaid the study site with 1-ha grids and selected 83 grids for sampling. We surveyed each grid on five consecutive nights for the presence and abundance of lorises. We measured tree species richness, basal area, mean tree height, percentage shrub cover, percentage climber cover, climber species richness, percentage canopy cover, tree felling and branch lopping, paths, and the time taken to walk the trail. We built 19 models for occupancy and 17 models for abundance using PRESENCE 12.9. We detected 69 lorises in total in a 57.05-km walk with an encounter rate of 1.33 ± 0.21 SE individuals/km. The detection probability was 0.25 ± 0.04 SE for occupancy, and 0.13 ± 0.04 SE for abundance. The naive occupancy estimate for loris was 0.48, but the occupancy estimate of the top model with covariates was 0.67 ± 0.12 SE. The estimate of abundance (λ) was 2.40 ± 1.04 SE per grid cell. Basal area, species richness of the trees, and tree felling and branch lopping were the major positive determinants of loris occupancy and abundance. In contrast, the percentage climber cover negatively influenced occupancy and abundance. This suggests that climbers do not provide a complete platform for the lorises to move, while tree species richness and basal area reflect a greater number of trees that provide more connectivity than climbers. Detailed investigations using the methods we employed can be undertaken throughout the range of this species to determine occupancy and formulate conservation and management plans.

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Acknowledgements

This research was supported by Women Scientist Scheme, a (WOS-A) fellowship under the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India (Grant No. SR/WOS­A/LS­89/2013) to Smitha D. Gnanaolivu. We thank the Forest Department of Kerala for permission to conduct the study. We also thank the officials of Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary, Kerala for their timely help and support in the field work. We would like to thank Selvalakshmi Selvaraj for her contribution in botanical field work and Indhiya Selvan for making the GIS maps. Professor Irwin Bernstein made very helpful comments on the manuscript and corrected the language. Mewa Singh thanks Science and Engineering Research Board, Government of India for the award of SERB Distinguished Fellowship (Award number: SB/S9/YSCP/SERB-DF/2018(1). We thank Addisu Mekonnen and Joanna Setchell, Associate Editor and Chief Editor respectively, International Journal of Primatology, and the three anonymous reviewers for their very valuable and detailed insights, which helped us improve the quality of this article.

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SDG and HNK conceived and designed the study. SDG performed the experiments. SDG and HNK analyzed the data. SDG, HNK and MS wrote the manuscript; other authors provided editorial advice.

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Correspondence to Mewa Singh.

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Handling Editor: Addisu Mekkonen

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Gnanaolivu, S.D., Kumara, H.N., Singh, M. et al. Ecological Determinants of Malabar Slender Loris (Loris lydekkerianus malabaricus, Cabrera 1908) Occupancy and Abundance in Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary, Western Ghats, India. Int J Primatol 41, 511–524 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10764-020-00154-7

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Keywords

  • Ecology
  • Habitat
  • Malabar slender loris
  • Nocturnal Surveys
  • Occupancy–abundance
  • Primate
  • Prosimian