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27 - Conservation biology of the Cheirogaleidae: future research directions

from Part V - Cheirogaleidae: conservation biogeography

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 March 2016

Shawn M. Lehman
University of Toronto, Canada
Ute Radespiel
University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Germany
Elke Zimmermann
University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Germany
Shawn M. Lehman
University of Toronto
Ute Radespiel
University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Foundation
Elke Zimmermann
University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Foundation
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Many conservation biologists consider the lemurs of Madagascar to be one of the world's highest conservation priorities (Rylands and Konstant, 2000; Allnutt et al., 2008; Kremen et al., 2008). Of the 103 extant lemurs species monitored under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, 70.8% (N = 73 species) are endangered or critically endangered. Moreover, 6 lemurs are on the most recent list of the 25 most endangered primates: Eulemur flavifrons, Lepilemur septentrionalis, Propithecus candidus, Microcebus berthae, Varecia rubra, and Indri indri (Mittermeier et al., 2012). Considerable research and conservation efforts have been applied to studies of some threatened lemur species and their forest habitats (e.g., Kremen et al., 1999; Seddon et al., 2000; Andrianandrasana et al., 2005). As a result of these efforts, there is a rich literature on the status of some rare lemur species and the need for concerted efforts to integrate local communities with conservation biology programs in the establishment and maintenance of protected areas (Schwitzer et al., 2014). However, most of these efforts have been applied to diurnal, large-bodied taxa, such as species in the genus Propithecus (Banks et al., 2007; Patel and Andrianandrasana, 2008; Irwin et al., 2009; Quéméré et al., 2010).

Although the Cheirogaleidae represents the most speciose lemur family, with 35 species described to date (Chapter 2; IUCN), there are relatively few data on the conservation assessments and threats experienced by taxa in this family compared to large-bodied, diurnal taxa in Madagascar. This lack of conservation attention arises, in part, from suggestions that small-bodied, nocturnal taxa have relatively low extinction risks, are ubiquitous in their geographic distribution, suffer least from anthropogenic disturbance (e.g., hunting and deforestation), and have physiological adaptations such as torpor and hibernation in many species that mitigate extinction threats (Cardillo, 2003; Liow et al., 2009; Hanna and Cardillo, 2014). The most endangered cheirogaleids have not benefitted from conservation campaigns focusing on charismatic species, due largely to their nocturnality and concomitant difficulties in visual access for tourists. Recent assessments of extinction risks in lemurs indicate increased conservation concerns for many cheirogaleids, particularly in light of studies indicating the critical role of some species as seed dispersers for endemic fruiting plants (Valenta et al., 2013), and their high levels of phylogenetic diversity (Lehman, 2006).

The Dwarf and Mouse Lemurs of Madagascar
Biology, Behavior and Conservation Biogeography of the Cheirogaleidae
, pp. 520 - 540
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2016

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