Microcebus murinus in Mandena, southeast Madagascar (photo: Tara Blanthorn); Madagascar Conservation & Development

Habitat corridor utilization by the gray mouse lemur, Microcebus murinus, in the littoral forest fragments of southeastern Madagascar

Laza Andriamandimbiarisoa, Tara S. Blanthorn, Refaly Ernest, Jean-Baptiste Ramanamanjato, Faly Randriatafika, Joerg U. Ganzhorn, Giuseppe Donati

Abstract


Habitat fragmentation has reached a dramatic level in Madagascar. As the size of many remaining forest fragments is unlikely to maintain viable animal populations in the long-term, connecting isolated subpopulations by creating corridors is important to support gene flow and the persistence of the endemic fauna, including lemurs. Since restoration with endemic trees is slow, exotic trees may represent a faster alternative to initiate habitats that can be used by animals. Here, we studied whether or not grey mouse lemurs, Microcebus murinus, use corridors composed of exotic and native trees of different age and composition to move between littoral forest fragments. For this, we trapped M. murinus in four forest fragments and mixed tree plantations between the fragments. One of the corridors was composed of a mixture of endemic and mature exotic Eucalyptus robusta trees. The second corridor consisted mainly of an old stand of exotic Melaleuca quinquenervia. The third corridor was composed of exotic Acacia mangium trees planted in 2009. During four years of study, only one male M. murinus used the Melaleuca corridor, while several M. murinus were caught in the Eucalyptus and the Acacia corridor in 2013. The density of the corridor under-story appeared to influence the number of individuals captured; the corridor with highest understory density was used most. The captures within the corridors illustrate that exotic trees allow movements of mouse lemurs within less than 5 years after plantation.

 

RÉSUMÉ

La perte et la fragmentation de l’habitat ont atteint une dimension dramatique à Madagascar. Même si les menaces résiduelles pourraient être atténuées, il est improbable que la taille actuelle de plusieurs fragments de forêts soit suffisante pour maintenir des populations animales viables à long terme. Connecter des sous-populations isolées en créant des corridors biologiques est une stratégie pour restaurer le flux génétique et appuyer le maintien des faunes endémiques, y compris les lémuriens. Étant donné que la restauration des habitats avec des plantes endémiques est lente, des espèces de plantes allogènes peuvent constituer une alternative rapide et peu onéreuse pour démarrer une restauration ainsi que pour créer des habitats utilisables par les animaux. Dans cette étude, nous examinons l’utilisation de corridors biologiques composés de différentes plantes allogènes par Microcebus murinus pour circuler entre divers fragments forestiers dans le Sud-Est de Madagascar. Notre but est de déterminer l’âge et la composition floristique des forêts restaurées qui permettraient la dispersion de M. murinus entre différents fragments. Pour cela, nous avons effectué une méthode de capture de M. murinus dans quatre fragments forestiers et dans des plantations d’arbres mixtes entre les fragments. Un des corridors biologiques était composé d’un mélange de plantes endémiques et allogènes dont Eucalyptus robusta. Le deuxième était principalement un vieux peuplement de Melaleuca quinquinerva. Le troisième corridor n’était composé que d’arbres allogènes, principalement des Acacia mangium, qui avaient été plantés en 2009. Les résultats montrent que M. murinus est abondant dans tous les sites de forêt. Pendant les quatre années d’étude, seul un mâle est passé d’un fragment à l’autre en utilisant le corridor de Melaleuca, et seul un mâle M. murinus a été capturé dans le corridor d’Acacia en 2012. En 2013, 29 individus de M. murinus ont été capturés dans deux des corridors suivis dans cette étude, incluant celui composé seulement de plantes allogènes, mais aucun animal n’a été capturé dans le corridor composé seulement de Melaleuca. La densité de la strate arbustive du corridor semble influencer le nombre d’individus capturés, le corridor ayant une densité élevée d’arbuste étant le plus utilisé. Ceci montre que les études de capture-recapture avec des Microcebus, qui sont des animaux ayant une courte durée de vie, ne sont pas efficaces pour documenter la dispersion de cette espèce dans les forêts littorales et la fonctionnalité des corridors. Par contre, les captures dans les corridors et dans les zones avoisinantes en 2013 suggèrent que la probabilité de flux génétique entre les fragments était élevée, et indiquent nettement que les plantes allogènes peuvent encourager les mouvements de M. murinus, même dans les peuplements jeunes de moins de cinq ans.


Keywords


Corridors; Tree plantations; Madagascar; Lemurs

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Madag. conserv. dev.
ISSN: 1662-2510