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Home range size and group structure of the northern giant mouse lemur Mirza zaza

By R.J.M. Nuijten


The recently discovered northern giant mouse lemur Mirza zaza has not yet been subject to detailed scientific study. The current fragmented knowledge of the species (morphology, range, microhabitat structure and reproductive ecology) has enabled an IUCN Red List re-assessment and led to a change in status from Data Deficient to Endangered (C. Schwitzer, pers. comm.). Mirza zaza is a small nocturnal primate of only 300 g that lives in north-western Madagascar, including the Sahamalaza Peninsula. The lowland semi-humid forest that occurs in this part of the island is degrading rapidly due to slash-and-burn agriculture, which is a great threat to the wildlife living there. This study investigates the nocturnal movement patterns and genetic structure of the M. zaza population living inside the Sahamalaza – Iles Radama National Park. A minimum of 10 individuals of M. zaza will be caught with live traps and equipped with GPS backpacks to follow their movements during the night. Recapture will enable download of the data and analysis of home range size and movement patterns. Tissue samples will be taken from each caught individual, and microsatellite analysis at the German Primate Centre, Göttingen, will reveal relatedness between individuals. We expect that the lemurs are unable to cross large open spaces between forest fragments and thus that their home ranges are limited by forest fragment size. A consequence of this would be limited genetic exchange, meaning that all individuals within one fragment are more related to each other than to individuals of other fragments. We expect to find different patterns for males and females, as males may move from one group to another for reproduction. The results of this study will contribute to the knowledge of this recently discovered and highly endangered primate species and can guide ongoing and future conservation actions in the region

Topics: Conservation, mouse-lemur, Madagascar, home range, genetics
Year: 2014
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