Edge effects result from interactions between adjacent habitats, which can modify abiotic and biotic conditions and produce various negative effects on biodiversity. Given the high degree of forest fragmentation in Madagascar, understanding lemur responses to edges is a conservation priority. We aim to determine the depth of edge influence in a continuous low-land rainforest of south-eastern Madagascar and identify the response of six lemur species. We surveyed lemur abundance along nine 1 km transects from May 2015 to July 2016 totaling 112.2 km of survey effort during the day and 88.5 km at night. We characterized the habitat structure via 33 plots centered along the line transects. We used Generalized Additive Models and Generalized Linear Models to test the effect of distance from the forest edge on vegetation parameters and animal encounter rates. Edge effect on the vegetation structure can be detected up to around 100 m in terms of tree diversity and density. We found a negative edge response for Madame Fleurette’s sportive lemurs (Lepilemur fleuretae) and collared brown lemurs (Eulemur collaris), and a positive edge response for Anosy mouse lemurs (Microcebus tanosi), Southern bamboo lemurs (Hapalemur meridionalis) and Southern woolly lemurs (Avahi meridionalis). Since around half of the forested areas in Madagascar are within 100 m of forest edge, taking into account edge effect is vital when producing estimates of population sizes and informing conservation management.
Phelps, MeganBesnard, FionaMauguiere, JulieRakotoarimanana, FaniryNijman, Vincent
Department of Social Sciences
Year of publication: 2022Date of RADAR deposit: 2023-01-05