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Determinants of Abundance and the Distribution of Primates in Northern Madagascar

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dc.contributor.advisor Wright, Patricia C en_US
dc.contributor.author Banks, Matthew Alan en_US
dc.contributor.other Department of Anthropology. en_US
dc.date.accessioned 2017-09-20T16:51:05Z
dc.date.available 2017-09-20T16:51:05Z
dc.date.issued 2015-08-01 en_US
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/11401/76737 en_US
dc.description 235 pg. en_US
dc.description.abstract Finding consistent causalities for patterns of wildlife abundance and distribution in the natural world is a central goal of ecology. Insights into how energy and biomass is distributed at particular trophic levels provide important clues towards understanding mechanisms for community structure. Among primates, the lemurs of Madagascar represent a fascinating case study for inquiry given the absence of many other animal taxa; a pattern that reflects a unique biogeographic history. A variety of factors have been proposed to influence community structure in nature and among these empirical work with primates has highlighted in particular, the role that resource availability, predation, competition and evolutionary history play in driving such complex phenomena. Despite the utility of this contextual framework, human population trends in Madagascar exceed a 3% annual growth rate, a pattern that reflects a growing interface between humans and wildlife. Increasingly, researchers that are interested in primate community structure are being challenged to separate the dynamic and often synergistic role that humans have to play in determining the abundance of wild primate populations from the more natural characteristics of the environment. This dissertation evaluates patterns of primate abundance and distribution across a dynamic and heavily fragmented landscape characterized by a variety of human activities, including agriculture, selective logging, stock grazing, large scale fires and hunting. The primary objectives of the dissertation are threefold: (1) evaluate the reliability of density estimates for primates using a widely accepted method, the line transect method, (2) assess the influence of natural and anthropogenic factors in determining the population densities of different lemur species within a diurnal primate community and (3) assess the influence of natural and anthropogenic factors in determining occupancy patterns of primates across a fragmented landscape. To meet these aims I gathered data on a diurnal primate community in three protected areas, the Analamerana Special Reserve, Ankarana National Park and the Andrafiamena-Andavakoera Forest Corridor, all located in the Diana region, Antsiranana Province of northern Madagascar. The results first demonstrate that the role of imperfect detection in biasing density estimates can be largely reconciled by collecting data on patterns of detectability in the different primate species sampled. Using adjusted counts however only marginally improved the accuracy of density estimates for one species from the current sample, suggesting that contemporary criticism over the use of line transect methods with primates may be overstated. Second, lemur population densities were most influenced by patterns of resource availability and quality as well as interactive effects at the community level. Notably, folivorous lemurs showed a strong preference for habitats that occur on specific geological formations where the top ten dry season foods were most abundant. Low level to moderate disturbances further optimized the habitat for folivores and reinforced the importance of the role of leaf quality in driving folivorous primate abundance. Frugivorous primates were also apparently uninfluenced by the spatial attributes of forest fragments but showed some evidence of preference for habitats with more abundant resources. Nonetheless the strongest relationship among frugivorous primates involved the tendency for the densities of the two sympatric species to track one another. The result suggests that there may be benefits to the polyspecific associations that have been described for these two species and indicates that the frugivores are likely targeting similar resources not measured here. (3) Finally the results from studies of occupancy patterns indicate that despite difficulties with modeling species richness or patterns of incidence for all species, some taxa show very clear responses to some easily quantified characteristics of the landscape. In particular the most frugivorous taxon shows a strong preference for forests of a threshold size. These large forest patches are likely to provide a greater abundance of the rare and patchily distributed resources that form a mainstay of the diet. Similarly folivorous lemurs also show a strong preference for the habitats where their preferred resources are most abundant, but also where heavy pressure on the environment from humans is minimized. On the whole these results provide some on-going support for the resource concentration hypothesis whereby species are primarily limited by the availability of palatable resources. The results also highlight the potential importance of interactive effects at the community level and specifically the role of polyspecific associations in structuring the northern Malagasy primate communities. Finally the findings also demonstrate a general resilience of lemurs to the process of fragmentation, a response that reflects congruence with the energy frugality hypothesis of Wright (1999) which postulates that lemurs have evolved under selective pressure for traits that confer efficiency in coping with a harsh and unpredictable environment en_US
dc.description.sponsorship This work is sponsored by the Stony Brook University Graduate School in compliance with the requirements for completion of degree. en_US
dc.format Monograph en_US
dc.format.medium Electronic Resource en_US
dc.language.iso en_US en_US
dc.publisher The Graduate School, Stony Brook University: Stony Brook, NY. en_US
dc.subject.lcsh Physical anthropology en_US
dc.subject.other abundance, food resources, fragmentation, human disturbance, interactive effects en_US
dc.title Determinants of Abundance and the Distribution of Primates in Northern Madagascar en_US
dc.type Dissertation en_US
dc.mimetype Application/PDF en_US
dc.contributor.committeemember Koenig, Andreas en_US
dc.contributor.committeemember Fleagle, John en_US
dc.contributor.committeemember Johnson, Steig. en_US


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