Beza Mahafaly Special Reserve: Long-Term Research on Lemurs in Southwestern Madagascar
- 1.4k Downloads
The Beza Mahafaly Project in southwestern Madagascar was founded in 1975. It was established as a collaborative effort among the University of Madagascar (now University of Antananarivo), Washington University, Yale University, and the local communities for long-term training and research, biodiversity conservation, and socioeconomic development. Beza Mahafaly consists of two noncontiguous forest parcels separated by 10 km that became a protected area (Réserve Spéciale) in 1986: an 80-ha gallery forest and a 520-ha xerophytic spiny forest. The region has a diversity of habitats and a very diverse and highly endemic flora and fauna, including four species of lemurs found in or near the reserve. The ringtailed lemur (Lemur catta) and Verreaux’s sifaka (Propithecus verreauxi) have been the subject of our long-term research. In this chapter we highlight some of the results of this research. Our multidisciplinary studies illustrate the feasibility of collecting long-term data on careers of individual animals and of obtaining large samples on numerous animals, across numerous social groups, in relatively isolated breeding populations. Thus, we can provide insights into many of the demographic, socioecological, anthropogenic, and epidemiological factors that shape the local ringtailed lemur and sifaka population. Here we summarize how ringtailed lemur demographic structure is affected by climatic perturbations (drought); how aspects of general health (parasite loads and dental health) are directly related to habitat, dietary, and anthropogenic factors; how tight birth seasonality in sifaka can elicit stress responses in males associated with increased male aggression, group takeovers, and infanticide risk; how life history schedules are related to evolutionary responses to extreme climatic fluctuations; and how directional selection among sifaka males leads to longer, stronger legs, but not to increase in male body mass relative to females.
KeywordsMating Season Gallery Forest Birth Season Ringtailed Lemur Sportive Lemur
We are grateful to the Government of Madagascar, Madagascar National Parks (MNP formerly ANGAP), the University of Antananarivo (The School of Agronomy (ESSA) especially the Forestry Department of this School (ESSA-Forêts) for permission to work at Beza Mahafaly Special Reserve. We especially appreciate the past and the present help, advice, and logistical support of our colleagues in Madagascar, notably Jo Ajimy, Krista Fish, James Loudon, Teague O’Mara, Jennifer Ness, Rafidisoa Tsiory, the late Rakotomanga Pothin, Ranaivoson Andrianasolo, Razakanirina Daniel, Ramanoelina Panja, Rasoarahona Jean, Rajoelison Gabrielle, Bruno Ramamonjisoa, Ranaivonasy Jeannin, Jessica Scott, and Youssouf Jacky. Our profound thanks go to the members of the BMSR Monitoring Team past and present, and in particular Enafa, Elahavelo, Emady Rigobert, Ellis Edidy, Efitiria, Eboroke Sylvain, Ranarivelo Ny Andry, Randrianarisoa Jeannicq, Ravelonjatovo Sylvia, Razanajaonarivaly Elyse, Ratsirarson Helian, and as well as to the Madagascar National Park team on the ground now led by Andry Randrianandrasana. Enafa’s skill with the blow gun is extraordinary, and together the BMSR Monitoring Team not only made it possible to capture so many animals safely but also, thereafter, to census and monitor them regularly.
We are grateful to our U.S. colleagues who continue to make important contributions to research on sifaka at BMSR, most notably the members of the Beza Mahafaly Sifaka Research Consortium (BMSRC), Marion Schwartz (Sifaka Database Manager), Patricia L. Whitten, Laurie R. Godfrey, and Robert E. Dewar. For veterinary assistance we thank David Miller, Martha Weber, Scott Larsen, Anneke Moresco, Mandala Hunter, Heather Culbertson, Kerry Sondgeroth, Katie Eckert, Rachel Mills, Angie Simai, Jessica Kurek, and Catherine Woods. Long-term support of the BMSR Monitoring Team has kindly been provided by the Liz Claiborne and Art Ortenberg Foundation in collaboration with Yale University and the University of Cambridge. Numerous funding agencies have generously supported our on-going research at BMSR, notably National Science Foundation, World Wildlife Fund, Margot Marsh Biodiversity Foundation, Schwartz Family Foundation Trust, St. Louis Zoo, Primate Conservation Inc., the International Primatological Society, the Indianapolis Zoo (Department of Science and Conservation), Tany Meva, MNP, the Wenner-Gran Foundation, National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the University of North Dakota (SSAC; Faculty Research Seed Money Council; Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Award Committee) and North Dakota EPSCoR, the American Society of Primatologists, the Lindbergh Fund, the John Ball Zoo Society, the National Geographic Society, the University of Colorado-Boulder (Council on Research and Creative Work, Innovative Grant Program), and Washington University. The electronic record of the primate specimens and their assigned Beza Mahafaly Osteological Collection (BMOC) numbers is available online through the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Collections website (Brockman et al. 2008).
[http://www.umass.edu/anthmorphometricslab/BezaMahafalyOsteoCollection.htm]. Finally, we thank Peter Kappeler, David Watts, and an anonymous reviewer for their excellent comments on this paper.
- Brockman DK (1994) Reproduction and mating system of Verreaux’s sifaka, Propithecus verreauxi, at Beza Mahafaly, Madagascar. PhD thesis, Yale University, New HavenGoogle Scholar
- Gentry AH (1993) Diversity and floristic composition of lowland tropical forest in Africa and South America. In: Goldblatt P (ed) Biological relationships between Africa and South America. Yale University Press, New Haven, pp 500–546Google Scholar
- Gould L (2006) Lemur catta ecology: what we know and what we need to know. In: Gould L, Sauther ML (eds) Lemurs: ecology and adaptation. Springer, New York, pp 255–274Google Scholar
- Kappeler PM, Fichtel C (2011) A 15-year perspective on the social organization and life history of sifaka in Kirindy Forest. In: Kappeler PM (ed) Long-term field studies of primates. Springer, HeidelbergGoogle Scholar
- Loudon JE (2009) The parasite ecology and socioecology of ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta) and Verreaux’s sifaka (Propithecus verreauxi) inhabiting the Beza Mahafaly Special Reserve. PhD thesis, University of Colorado, BoulderGoogle Scholar
- Loudon JE, Sauther ML, Fish KD, Hunter-Ishikawa M, Jack IAY (2006) One reserve, three primates: applying a holistic approach to understand the interconnections among ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta), Verreaux’s sifaka (Propithecus verreauxi), and humans (Homo sapiens) at Beza Mahafaly Special Reserve, Madagascar. Ecol Environ Anthropol 2:54–74Google Scholar
- Morris WF, Altmann J, Brockman DK, Cords M, Fedigan LM, Pusey AE, Stoinski TS, Bronikowski AM, Alberts SC, Strier KB (2011) Low demographic variability in wild primate populations: fitness impacts of variation, covariation, and serial correlation in vital rates. Am Nat 177:e14–28. doi: 10.1086/657443 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Rainwater TR, Sauther ML, Rainwater KAE, Mills RE, Cuozzo FP, Zhang B, McDaniel LN, Abel MT, Marsland EJ, Weber MA, Jack IAY, Platt SG, Cobb GP, Anderson TA (2009) Assessment of organochlorine pesticides and metals in ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta) at Beza Mahafaly Special Reserve, Madagascar. Am J Primatol 71:998–1010CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Ratsirarson J (2003) Réserve Spéciale de Beza Mahafaly. In: Goodman SM, Benstead JP (eds) The natural history of Madagascar. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp 1520–1525Google Scholar
- Ratsirarson J (2008) La Réserve Spéciale de Beza Mahafaly. In: Goodman SM (ed) Paysages naturels et biodiversité de Madagascar. Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, pp 615–626Google Scholar
- Ratsirarson J, Randrianarisoa J, Ellis E, Emady RJ, Efitroarany RJ, Razanajaonarivalona EH, Richard AF (2001) Beza Mahafaly: écologie et réalités socio-économiques. Rech Dev B 18:1–104Google Scholar
- Sauther ML, Fish KD, Cuozzo FP, Miller DS, Hunter-Ishikawa M, Culbertson H (2006) Patterns of health, disease, and behavior among wild ringtailed lemurs, Lemur catta: effects of habitat and sex. In: Jolly A, Sussman RW, Koyama N, Rasamimanana H (eds) Ringtailed lemur biology. Springer, New York, pp 313–331CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Steele E (1975) Needed: virtue and money. Defenders Wildlife 50:90Google Scholar
- Sussman RW, Ratsirarson J (2006) Beza Mahafaly Special Reserve: a research site in southwestern Madagascar. In: Jolly A, Sussman RW, Koyama N, Rasamimanana HR (eds) Ringtailed lemur biology. Springer, New York, pp 43–51Google Scholar
- Sussman RW, Green GM, Porton I, Andrianasolondraibe OL, Ratsirarson J (2003) A survey of the habitat of Lemur catta in southwestern and southern Madagascar. Primate Conserv 19:32–57Google Scholar
- Sussman RW, Sweeney S, Green GM, Porton I, Andrianasolondraibe OL, Ratsirarson J (2006) A preliminary estimate of Lemur catta population density using satellite imagery. In: Jolly A, Sussman RW, Koyama N, Rasamimanana HR (eds) Ringtailed lemur biology: Lemur catta in Madagascar. Springer, New York, pp 16–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- White F (1983) The vegetation of Africa: a descriptive memoir to accompany the UNESCO/AETFAT/UNSO vegetation map of Africa. UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), ParisGoogle Scholar