Please consider the environment before printing | PDF version

Lemurs are key to health of Madagascar's rainforests
Rhett A. Butler,
June 12, 2008

Lemurs are key to health of Madagascar's rainforests


Lemurs are key to health of Madagascar's rainforests
Rhett A. Butler,
June 12, 2008

Lemurs play a key role in the health of Madagascar's tropical rainforests said a renowned primatologist speaking at a meeting of conservation biologists in Paramaribo, Suriname.

Analyzing 20 years of data on lemur feeding habits in the forests of Ranomafana National Park, Dr. Patricia Wright found that entire genera of plant are dependent on a single species of lemur for dispersal. The results suggest that the loss of even a single species of lemur may threaten the survival of one or more plant species.

"The loss of one lemur species could threaten the persistence of a fruit family," she told biologists at the annual meeting for the Association of Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC). "Forest composition depends on the entire community of lemurs. Therefore conservation must be at the community level."

Black-and-white ruffed lemur. A survey in Malagasy in communities around Ranomafana revealed that respondents find this species the "tastiest".
Worryingly Wright noted that the "tastiest" lemur as revealed by surveys of more than 2000 individuals in local villages was also one of the most important dispersers: the black-and-white ruffed lemur.

Unlike other parts of the world where most seed dispersal is done by birds, rodents, ungulates, and bats, lemurs appear to be the most important seed dispersers in Madagascar. More than two-thirds of birds on the island are insectivores, as are most species of bats. No ungulates, possums, or squirrels are native to the forests of Madagascar.

Wright said future research in this area would focus on genetic tagging of fruits, tracking of seedlings, comparing feeding patterns across different sites in Madagascar, and mapping tree distribution within the forest.

"Lemurs are very important in Madagascar, now we're trying to find out how important," she concluded.

More news on Madagascar

News index | RSS | Add to MyYahoo!


Organic Apparel from Patagonia | Insect-repelling clothing

WILDMADAGASCAR.ORG aims to raise interest and awareness in Madagascar >>

In French

Mongabay will never distribute your email address or send spam.

You can help support and by becoming a contributor or by using the link below to buy from

In Association with

Feral animals vs lemurs
Adventures in Makira
Fires in Madagascar
Coral bleaching
Large lemur extinction
Madagascar megatransect
Lemur hunting
Dancing lemur
Madagascar tourism


  • Madagascar Wildlife
  • Dancing lemurs
  • Don't fall asleep the sloths will eat you
  • Sucking on this frog may make you insane


  • Mount Kenya
  • East Africa Safari Wildlife
  • Kenya's Turkana People
  • Peru
  • African Wildlife
  • Alaska
  • China
  • Madagascar Chameleons


  • Hallucinogenic frog bag
  • Madagascar wildlife bag

  • Copyright mongabay 2004-2012 seeks to raise interest in and appreciation of wild lands and wildlife, while examining the impact of emerging trends in climate, technology, economics, and finance on conservation and development.

    Copyright mongabay 2009