Date of Award

Summer 8-7-2020

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Departments/Programs

Psychology

First Advisor

Andrea Baden

Second Advisor

Joshua Plotnik

Academic Program Adviser

Karolina Czech

Abstract

Accurate population estimates are critical to inform conservation management of species. Incomplete sampling can lead to population underestimates and lacking conservation efforts. Population surveys are important for assessing human and animal welfare to allow for targeted conservation action. Recent ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta) surveys have led researchers to conclude that L. catta populations are crashing. This has generated much attention and alarm, but may also be based on incomplete information. To better understand population dynamics, more thorough sampling is needed. Here, we survey five such sites to reassess the presence and abundance of L. catta in these locations. We conducted rapid assessment surveys from June – July 2019 at five sites in southwestern Madagascar (Isalo National Park and Zombitse, Vohibasia, Ranomay, and Fiheranana forests) and detected a total of 121 L. catta from 14 groups at four of the five sites surveyed. Group sizes were within the normal range of variation from other published studies, and social organization seems intact. Of these populations, one appears to be well protected by the local community, while others are experiencing pressures from human hunting and encroachment. Our findings contribute essential information to population estimates, and build upon existing data to further refine L. catta distributions. Moreover, results from our study will allow for targeted conservation in areas where L. catta are threatened by human activities.

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