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Structure of Microhabitats Used by Microcebus rufus Across a Heterogeneous Landscape

Abstract

Microhabitat preference among primates, which provides them with the niche they need to survive, often conditions primate diversity, abundance, and coexistence. Vegetation alteration and recovery have built heterogeneous forest landscapes that may influence primates’ microhabitat preferences. We compared the diversity and size of trees/shrubs and the presence of lianas in 132 sites where we captured the rufous mouse lemur (Microcebus rufus), with that of 240 sites where we did not capture this species, to investigate the aspects of microhabitat structure they might prefer. We then examined how this structural preference varies across a heterogeneous landscape of forests with different disturbance levels. Overall, microhabitats used by M. rufus differed significantly from unused ones in densities of small size, understory, and midstory plants. Microcebus rufus frequented microhabitats with significantly denser small- and medium-size (diameter at breast height [DBH] 2.5–10 cm) trees/shrubs without lianas in the primary forest, and small-size plants (DBH 2.5–4.9 cm) with one liana in other forest types. Compared to the microhabitats they used in the primary forest, the microhabitats in other forest types had lower densities of trees/shrubs with lianas. Additionally, the secondary forests and forest fragments also had significantly lower DBH. Although this variation in microhabitat use may represent an opportunity for M. rufus to live in disturbed habitats, it may expose them to additional threats, affecting their long-term survival. These findings emphasize the need to examine potential changes in microhabitat use among primates living in anthropogenic landscapes, which could help optimize long-term conservation and management of threatened primate species in heterogeneous landscapes.

Abstract in Malagasy

Ny fahasamihafana sy habetsahana ary firaisa-monin’ireo gidro ao anaty ala dia mazàna voafehin’ny fananana toeram-ponenana tandrify izay mamaritra ny eram-piveloman’izy ireo. Ny fahasimbana sy fiavaozan’ny tamba-java-maniry dia mahatonga ny ala ho lasa tontolo iray misy karazam-toeram-ponenana maro, izay mety hanova ihany koa ny rafitr’ io toeram-ponenana tandrify io. Mba hamantarana ny rafitry ny toeram-ponenana tandrifin’ny antsidy mena (Microcebus rufus) dia nanao fikarohana mahakasika ny fahasamihafana sy haben’ireo hazo ary ny fisian’ny vahy amin’ny toerana 132 nahafandrihana sy 240 tsy nahafandrihana antsidy mena izahay. Nijery ihany koa ny mety fiovaovan’io rafitra io eo amin’ny tontolo iray misy karazana ala manana sokajim-pahasimbana samihafa. Ny toeram-ponenana tandrifin’ny M. rufus ary dia miavaka amin’ny fananany hazo madinika savaivo ary hazo iva sy salatsalany. Raha dinihina akaiky kokoa dia mampiasa matetika toeram-ponenana be hazo manana savaivo madinika sy salatsalany (savaivo 2.5–10 sm) tsy misy vahy izy ireo any amin’ny ala voajanahary; ary be hazo madini-tsavaivo (savaivo 2.5–4.9 sm) any amin’ireo karazana ala hafa. Raha ampitahaina amin’ny toeram-ponenana any amin’ny ala voajanahary kosa dia nahitana fitotonganan’ny isan’ny hazo misy vahy any amin’ny karazana ala hafa, ary miampy fidinan’ny savaivo izany any amin’ny ala savoka sy vakivakinala. Na dia afaka manararaotra miaina amin’io fiovan-drafitry ny toeram-ponenana tandrify io ary ny M. rufus manoloana ny fahasimbana, dia mety hampiharihary azy ireo amin’ny ambana hafa izany, izay mety hanahirana ny fikajiana azy ireo ho lovain-jafy. Ity voka-pikarohana ity dia mampiseho ny ilàna ny fandalinana ny fiovaovan’nyfapampiasan’ny gidro ny toeram-ponenana tandrifiny anaty tontolo voatsemban’olombelona, izay heverina fa hanatsara ny fikajiana lovain-jafy’ny ala sy fitantanana ireo gidro tandindomin-doza any amin’ny tontolo misy karazam-ponenana maro.

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Acknowledgments

We thank the Rufford Small Grant for Nature Conservation (Grant No. 24419-1) and Idea Wild for generously funding the research that led to these observations. We thank Finaritra Randimbiarison and Dr. Zafimahery Rakotomalala for their insightful comments that improved an earlier version of this manuscript. We also thank Ary Saina Writing Group for their advice, comments, and suggestions when preparing and writing this article and Centre Valbio and Mention Zoologie and Biodiversité Animale at the University of Antananarivo for their administrative and logistical support during fieldwork. We are grateful to Nérée Raharo Beson and Aimé “Meme” Andriantiana and all local guides for their valuable help during data collection. We also thank Dr. Andrea Baden, two anonymous reviewers, and the editor-in-chief Dr. Joanna Setchell for their helpful feedback in the development of this article.

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VR and OHR conceived and designed the project. VR conducted fieldwork. VR analyzed the data with inputs from OHR. VR wrote the first draft of the manuscript. Both authors contributed equally to later writing of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Veronarindra Ramananjato.

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Handling Editor: Joanna Setchell.

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Badge earned for open practices: Open Data. Experiment materials and data are available at: https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.2280gb5rs.

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Ramananjato, V., Razafindratsima, O.H. Structure of Microhabitats Used by Microcebus rufus Across a Heterogeneous Landscape. Int J Primatol 42, 682–700 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10764-021-00224-4

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Keywords

  • Conservation
  • Habitat
  • Madagascar
  • Mouse lemurs
  • Primates
  • Tropical forests
  • Vegetation analysis