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Ranomafana, Madagascar

Gerber B.,Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University | Karpanty S.M.,Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University | Crawford C.,Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University | Kotschwar M.,Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University | Randrianantenaina J.,Center ValBio
ORYX | Year: 2010

Despite major efforts to understand and conserve Madagascars unique biodiversity, relatively little is known about the islands carnivore populations. We therefore deployed 43 camera-trap stations in Ranomafana National Park, Madagascar during June-August 2007 to evaluate the efficacy of this method for studying Malagasy carnivores and to estimate the relative abundance and density of carnivores in the eastern rainforest. A total of 755 camera-trap nights provided 1,605 photographs of four endemic carnivore species (fossa Cryptoprocta ferox, Malagasy civet Fossa fossana, ring-tailed mongoose Galidia elegans and broad-striped mongoose Galidictus fasciata), the exotic Indian civet Viverricula indica and the domestic dog Canis familiaris. We identified 38 individual F. fossana and 10 individual C. ferox. We estimated density using both capture-recapture analyses, with a buffer of full mean-maximum-distance-moved, and a spatially-explicit maximum-likelihood method (F. fossana: 3.03 and 2.23 km-2, respectively; C. ferox: 0.15 and 0.17 km-2, respectively). Our estimated densities of C. ferox in rainforest are lower than published estimates for conspecifics in the western dry forests. Within Ranomafana National Park species richness of native carnivores did not vary among trail systems located in secondary, selectively-logged and undisturbed forest. These results provide the first assessment of carnivore population parameters using camera-traps in the eastern rainforests of Madagascar. Copyright © 2010 Fauna & Flora International.

Tecot S.R.,University of Arizona | Tecot S.R.,Center ValBio | Singletary B.,University of Arizona | Eadie E.,University of Arizona
American Journal of Primatology | Year: 2016

Rare in mammals but more common in primates, there remains a considerable controversy concerning whether primate species traditionally described as monogamous actually express this highly specialized breeding pattern. Unfortunately the definition of "monogamy" varies greatly, inhibiting our understanding of this trait and two related traits with which monogamy is often conflated: pair-living and pair-bonding. Strepsirrhine primates are useful models to study factors that select for pair-living, pair-bonding, and monogamy because this taxon exhibits high incidences of each trait, in addition to species that exhibit behaviors that reflect combinations of these traits. Several hypotheses have been articulated to help explain the evolution of "monogamy," but again, these hypotheses often conflate pair-living, pair-bonding, and/or monogamy. In this review, we (1) propose clear, discrete, and logical definitions for each trait; (2) review variation in strepsirrhines with respect to these three traits; (3) clarify which of these traits can be explained by existing hypotheses; and (4) provide an example of the applicability of the Resource Defense Hypothesis (RDH) to understand two of these traits, pair-living and pair-bonding, in the red-bellied lemur (Eulemur rubriventer). Available data support the RDH for pair-living in red-bellied lemurs. They live in stable family groups with one adult pair. Both sexes actively codefend territories that overlap little with other pairs' territories. Agonism is extremely rare within groups and intergroup and interspecific agonism varies with food availability. Available data also support the RDH for pair-bonding. Pair-bonds are cohesive year-round. Pairs coordinate behaviors to defend territories with auditory and olfactory signals. Cohesion increases with food abundance and both sexes reinforce bonds. We indicate where additional data will help to more rigorously test the RDH for each trait and encourage others to test alternative hypotheses. Am. J. Primatol. 78:340-354, 2016. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Tecot S.R.,University of Arizona | Tecot S.R.,State University of New York at Stony Brook | Tecot S.R.,Center ValBio | Tecot S.R.,University of Texas at Austin
International Journal of Primatology | Year: 2010

Highly seasonal breeding has been considered one of the keys to understanding Malagasy primate socioecology. Strict seasonal breeding may be particularly critical for Malagasy primates because they live in such energetically challenging seasonal environments. Lemurs also live in highly unpredictable environments, and there is growing evidence that reproductive timing may be mediated by additional factors, suggesting that more relaxed breeding seasonality is adaptive in some cases. I tested the adaptive breadth of the birth peak in Eulemur rubriventer, which breed in several different months. I describe reproduction in the species by determining the timing and extent of the birth season (period in which all births occur) and birth peak (period in which the majority of births occur); test whether relaxed reproductive seasonality might increase reproductive success by comparing infant mortality within and outside the birth peak; and model the extent to which fruit availability has an influence on the timing of reproduction. I collected birth data on 5 groups in 2003-2005, which I combined with demographic data that D. Overdorff collected from 5 focal groups and additional censused groups between 1988 and 1996. Thirty births occurred in 8 different months. Births were significantly seasonal, with a unimodal birth peak in late August/September/October, and a mean birth date of October 11. Twenty-three births (76.7%) occurred within 54 d (14.79%) of the year. No births occurred May-July, indicating that conceptions did not occur from late December through late February, and cycling (estimated using gestation length) did not occur until ca. 101 d after the austral summer solstice (December 21). Of 22 infants followed regularly, 18 were born in the birth peak, of which 2 died (11%). All 4 infants born out of season died. Based on fruit availability, I calculated a Theoretical Overlap index (T), which indicated a 3-mo window with optimal food conditions for reproduction. This window corresponded to the timing and breadth of the birth peak in Eulemur rubriventer. These results indicate that a breeding season >3 mo within a given year is not adaptive in the species, likely due in large part to the availability of fruit during key reproductive stages, particularly before breeding. © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.

Gerber B.D.,Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University | Karpanty S.M.,Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University | Randrianantenaina J.,Center ValBio
ORYX | Year: 2012

Forest carnivores are threatened globally by logging and forest fragmentation yet we know relatively little about how such change affects predator populations. This is especially true in Madagascar, where carnivores have not been extensively studied. To understand better the effects of logging and fragmentation on Malagasy carnivores we evaluated species composition, density of fossa Cryptoprocta ferox and Malagasy civet Fossa fossana, and carnivore occupancy in central-eastern Madagascar. We photographically-sampled carnivores in two contiguous (primary and selectively-logged) and two fragmented rainforests (fragments <2.5 and >15 km from intact forest). Species composition varied, with more native carnivores in the contiguous than fragmented rainforests. F. fossana was absent from fragmented rainforests and at a lower density in selectively-logged than in primary rainforest (mean 1.38±SE 0.22 and 3.19±SE 0.55 individuals km-2, respectively). C. ferox was detected in fragments <2.5 km from forest and had similar densities in primary and selectively-logged forests (0.12±SE 0.05 and 0.09±SE 0.04 adults km-2, respectively) but was absent in fragments >15 km from forest. We identified only two protected areas in Madagascar that may maintain >300 adult C. ferox. Occupancy of broad-striped mongoose Galidictis fasciata was positively related to fragment size whereas occupancy of ring-tailed mongoose Galidia elegans elegans was negatively associated with increasing exotic wild cat (Felis spp.) activity at a camera site. Degraded rainforest fragments are difficult environments for Malagasy carnivores to occupy; there is a need to prioritize the reconnection and maintenance of contiguous forest tracts. © 2012 Fauna & Flora International.

Gerber B.D.,Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University | Karpanty S.M.,Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University | Randrianantenaina J.,Center ValBio
Journal of Mammalogy | Year: 2012

Temporal partitioning of activity among sympatric species can be an important mechanism for species coexistence. Further, if exotic and native species overlap temporally, there is potential for direct competition and antagonism, which may lead to native species extirpation. We 1st assessed if ecologically similar native carnivores of Madagascar demonstrated activity pattern overlap and then explored whether overlap in activity might lead to negative impacts of exotic carnivores on native carnivores. We used photographic sampling to quantify the temporal activity patterns of carnivores at 4 study sites. The activity of the 2 smaller-bodied native species, Galidia elegans and Galidictis fasciata, overlapped minimally; these 2 carnivores share a similar generalist diet, which may drive their divergent temporal activity. In contrast, the medium-sized native species, Fossa fossana and Eupleres goudotii, were both highly nocturnal; these 2 species appear segregated in their diets. The largest native carnivore, Cryptoprocta ferox, selectively used crepuscular hours, but overall was cathemeral; it was notably absent or basically so at sites where dogs were most abundant and active throughout the diel cycle. We found G. elegans to shift from preferred activity periods in the presence of dogs and the exotic Viverricula indica. Our results suggest that the presence and activity of exotic carnivores can negatively impact native carnivores in fragmented rain forests. © 2012 American Society of Mammalogists.

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