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Nov 28, 2011

Conservation ecology, morphology and reproduction of the nocturnal northern giant mouse lemur

Conservation ecology, morphology and reproduction of the nocturnal northern giant mouse lemur (Mirza zaza) in Sahamalaza National Park, north-western Madagascar

Madagascar, a primate conservation hotspot, has by far the highest percentage of primate species red-listed as Data Deficient. The underlying gaps in conservation-relevant knowledge make it difficult to design effective conservation measures.

The northern giant mouse lemur (Mirza zaza) was only described in 2005 (Kappeler et al., 2005) and has been listed as Data Deficient on the IUCN Red List until recently. This study was conducted as the first comprehensive ecological study of the species and aimed at gathering necessary information for effective conservation planning.

In the Ankarafa Forest inside Sahamalaza National Park, northwestern Madagascar, we radio-tracked 8 individual M. zaza over 2.5 months in the dry season from May to July 2011. During its nocturnal activity the species was found to have extensively overlapping home ranges. Group home ranges varied between 0.52 and 2.34 ha. M. zaza favoured large trees in dense microhabitats and preferred certain tree species. Nest sites were characterized by large and tall trees with many lianas.

Up to 4 animals including several males with fully developed testes shared a group-exclusive nest, which suggests multi-male/multi-female or extended families nest groups. Morphology data and behavioural observations suggest that M. zaza reproduces aseasonally and exhibits a promiscuous mating system.

Based on these findings the protection of the remaining habitat of M. zaza is recommended, focusing on dense forest areas and large trees while limiting selective logging. As one of the outcomes of this project, the IUCN Red List status of M. zaza was changed to Vulnerable (VU B2ab).

Bristol Zoo Gardens

WINNER of BIAZA Award 2011 for Best research project

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