WCS Madagascar


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Low elevation silky sifakas (Propithecus candidus) in the Makira Conservation Site at Andaparaty-Rabeson. Ranging, demography, and possible sympatry with red ruffed lemurs (Varecia rubra).
A two-month study of Silky sifaka (Propithecus candidus) ranging and demography within the Makira conservation site was made at the Andaparaty-Rabeson research site. Silky sifakas and their traces were surveyed using a flagged trail system created along existing footpaths and travel routes used by P. candidus. GPS coordinates and altitude were taken at each encounter with animals or their traces. Physical descriptions were recorded for all individuals, and photos taken whenever possible. Whenever anthropogenic habitat disturbance was surveyed, the intensity of the disturbance was classified using Lehman et al.’s (2006) 4-point scale. Home range size was determined using the Ranges VI software package. Surveys with adult local residents were made at two villages in order to learn more about the local socio-economic context.
A rhapsody of colours from Madagascar. discovery of a remarkable new snake of the genus Liophidium and its phylogenetic relationships
We describe an extraordinarily bright-coloured new species of lamprophiid snake from Makira reserve in the North East of Madagascar, assigned to the subfamily Pseudoxyrhophiinae. Liophidium pattoni sp. n. is characterised by four pink-red longitudinal lines on a black dorsum, a yellow venter and a pink-red ventral side of tail. It had previously been photographed at Masoala National Park in northeastern Madagascar and possibly elsewhere, but its generic assignment was uncertain because no specimens were available for study. Molecular phylogenetic analyses on the basis of DNA sequences of the cytochrome b, 6S rRNA and nuclear c-mos genes are concordant in placing the new species sister to Liophidium rhodogaster, and these two species sister to a clade containing the remaining Liophidium species included. Besides its unique colour and a substantial genetic differentiation, L. pattoni differs from almost all Liophidium by meristic characters, the only exception being L. torquatum that exhibits overlaps in scale counts with the new species but differs by its colouration, with lack of pink-red colour on the back, a dark band in the neck, and transversal lines of spots on the venter. Next to the yellow-black Stenophis citrinus, this is the second pseudoxyrhophiine from Madagascar with such bright and potentially aposematic colour, although these two species both are not aggressive and, as far as is known, not dangerously toxic.
Les petits mammifères non volants de la forêt de Makira, Madagascar [Non-volant small mammals of the Makira Forest]
Considering the relatively pristine state and size (386,000 ha) of the Makira Forest in the northeastern Madagascar, it was important to assess the status of its biodiversity. No information was previously available on the small mammals (orders Rodentia, Afrosoricida, and Soricomorpha) of this forest, and was conducted at six sites from 14 December 2002 to 28 February 2003. Line transects were used to sample the local fauna with the aid of metal traps and pit-falls (with drift fences). For each site, 700 trap-nights for metal traps and 231 trap-nights for the pit-fall traps were accrued. During this study, 17 species of small mammals were documented. With the exception of two introduced species, rodent Rattus rattus (Muridae, Rodentia) and a shrew Suncus murinus (Soricidae, Soricomorpha), all are endemic to Madagascar. Biogeographical analysis of the different sites showed that the specific composition of rodents, tenrecs and shrews varied markedly according to altitude and condition of the forest. The Makira Forest and the closed protected areas share the majority of small mammals species. However, the Makira Forest holds relatively few species of rodents, although its Tenrecidae community is of particular interest.
Large rivers do not always act as species barriers for Lepilemur sp.
Sportive lemurs constitute a highly diverse endemic lemur family (24 species) for which many biogeographic boundaries are not yet clarified. Based on recent phylogeographic models, this study aims to determine the importance of two large rivers (the Antainambalana and Rantanabe) in northeastern Madagascar as species barriers for Lepilemur seali. The Antainambalana River was previously assumed to act as the southern border of its distribution. A total of 1,038 bp of the mtDNA of four individuals stemming from two adjacent inter-river systems south of the Antainambalana River was sequenced and compared to sequences of 22 described Lepilemur species. The phylogenetic reconstruction did not find support for either of the two rivers as species barrier for Lepilemur, as all captured individuals clustered closely with and therefore belonged to L. seali. However, a previously published sequence of an individual from a site south of our study sites belongs to a separate species. The southern boundary of L. seali must therefore be one of two large rivers further south of our study sites. The results suggest that L. seali may possess a relatively large altitudinal range that enabled this species to migrate around the headwaters of the Antainambalana and Rantanabe Rivers. Previous phylogeographic models need to be refined in order to incorporate these findings, and more species-specific altitudinal range data are urgently needed in order to fully understand the biogeographic patterns of lemurs on Madagascar.
Le bloc forestier de Makira charnière de Lémuriens [The Makira forest block lemur hinge]
Twelve localities within the Makira forest block were explored for lemur richness. Animals were surveyed through diurnal and nocturnal censuses along a 2 km path previously selected. GPS coordinates are recorded and physical descriptions were made for each animal or group encountered. For each locality, the respective relative densities of populations were calculated using the distance sampling method.
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