Behaviour 2019
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Influence of Anthropogenic Disturbance on the Behavior of Coquerel’s Sifaka (Propithecus coquereli)
Miarisoa L Ramilison1, Onjaniaina Razafindramasy1, Richmond Aririguzoh2, Devon Block-Funkhouser2, Benjamin Morrison3, Samantha M Stead4, Malcolm S Ramsay4. 1Université de Mahajanga, Mahajanga, Boeny, Madagascar; 2Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, United States; 3Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland, Ireland; 4University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Due to widespread habitat loss and fragmentation in Madagascar, many lemurs live in anthropogenically disturbed habitat, including the critically endangered Coquerel’s sifaka (Propithecus coquereli). Previous research on the response of sifaka to disturbance has shown mixed results. This study examines the effect of disturbance on the behavior of this species. We compared the activity budgets between sifaka groups living within disturbed habitat and groups living in a less disturbed habitat. Behavioral data were obtained on five groups: three groups followed in disturbed habitat and two groups in forest habitat during six-weeks in the Mariarano region of Madagascar. The results show that groups in disturbed habitat spent significantly more time on grooming behavior than groups in forest habitat. These findings may be due to increased presence of stressors (such as human and dogs), differences in ectoparasite loads between groups, or presence of introduced high-energy fruit trees in the disturbed habitat.  Our research showcases that sifaka responses to disturbed habitat are complicated and need to studied further in order to inform future conservation efforts.