|Impact of forest type and disturbance on sifaka (Propithecus tattersalli) social cohesion and ranging behavior|
|Meredith A. Semel1, Julie C. Ratovoson2, Ignacio T. Moore1. 1Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia, United States; 2University of Antananarivo, Antananarivo, , Madagascar
Madagascar is one of the world’s “richest” biodiversity hotspots, yet little is known about how habitat degradation will affect imperiled species. Critically endangered golden-crowned sifakas (hereafter, GCS; Propithecus tattersalli) are folivorous, group-living primates endemic to northern Madagascar. GCS display a flexible fission-fusion behavior, which results in individuals periodically separating from and rejoining group members after temporal and spatial separation. We are examining how fragmentation and forest type influence GCS ranging behavior and social cohesion. To do this, we completed seven full day behavioral follows for nine GCS groups in rainforest and dry forest fragments (August-December 2018). We recorded activity, height, feeding information, nearest neighbor proximity, and group spread at ten-minute intervals. Fragment type resulted in significant group spread and territory size variance. GCS in rainforest fragments exhibited decreased group cohesion and increased territory size, possibly due to reduced food item density. Moving forward, we will be employing the use of novel tracking devices to more effectively collect group cohesion data.