Blue-eyed black lemur/Sclater's black lemur (Eulemur flavifrons)
Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 11052671
The blue-eyed black lemur is currently one of the world's 25 most endangered primates (Schwitzer et al, 2009). It is red-listed as Critically Endangered, with an estimated decline in population numbers of >80% over three generations (spanning the past and future) (IUCN, 2011). Eulemur flavifrons is affected by deforestation and degradation of primary forest habitat due to slash and burn agriculture. Previous studies have shown that factors associated with the remaining primary forest fragments that these lemurs inhabit are vital for the continued existence of this species. The blue-eyed black lemur uses primary and degraded forest fragments differently, with home ranges being larger in degraded fragments and the density of plant families and trees used for feeding and resting being higher in primary fragments (Schwitzer, N. et al, 2007a). Parasite prevalence in blue-eyed black lemurs has also been found to be higher in individuals inhabiting degraded forest fragments (Schwitzer, N. et al, 2010), suggesting that lemurs in degraded fragments are less able to fight parasite infection. The Association Européenne pour l'Etude et la Conservation des Lémuriens (AEECL) has established a natural resource management and ecological research programme in the area to monitor and reduce the loss of valuable forest fragments (http://www.aeecl.org/madagascar.shtml).
The management and monitoring of the AEECL's natural resource management and ecological research programme will benefit from the data collected during this project, as it will allow variation in individual energy intake of Eulemur flavifrons between fragments to be ascertained, whilst also recording the effect of this variation on the social interactions within groups. The identification of dietary items and time/frequency spent feeding on them will indicate preferred and critical food sources, which can focus conservation efforts onto those areas most likely to support the long-term survival of E. flavifrons and can also direct reforestation measures. Quantification of individual food (and therefore energy) intake will allow variation in nutritional intake between fragments to be assessed and again can inform conservation strategies, focussing on the protection of fragments that are most likely to support the long-term survival of E. flavifrons. Reforestation measures can be adapted to using those trees that provide key resources for the lemurs. Quantification of behavioural characteristics (agonistic and sociopositive behaviour, etc) will allow the impact of habitat degradation on the population dynamics within groups to be observed. Studying plant phenology in the different forest fragments inhabited by lemur groups, combined with the identification of preferred and critical food sources, can again inform ongoing and future reforestation measures in Sahamalaza and thus enable more targeted species conservation efforts for Eulemur flavifrons.
Project 11052671 location - Madagascar, Africa