Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

These lemurs live in social groups that are usually between 2 and 9 individuals strong (average 3 to 5) (2) (3). Group territories are defended by vocalisations, displays and scent-markings. Bonds between group members are maintained by social grooming; individuals sit facing each other and use their teeth and hands to groom (3). Females give birth to a single offspring, which is initially carried on its mother's back (3). Alaotran gentle lemurs are active during the day and night with peaks of activity at dawn and dusk. Unlike other lemurs, members of this species walk on all fours along the reed stalks of their habitat, bending one stalk until it allows them to reach the next. However, they can also use the clinging-and-leaping locomotion more typical of this group of primates (3). These lemurs specialise on eating papyrus leaves (Cyperus madagascariensis) (3) and those of reeds such as Phragmites spp. (1); individuals will also spend some time on the ground foraging for food (3).
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Description

The Alaotran gentle lemur has a woolly, dense, dark-grey coat, with a chestnut tinge on the crown (3). The head is rounded, the muzzle blunt and the ears are short (5). The grasping hands and feet and long tail used for balance, allow this lemur to walk along the reed stalks of its lakeside habitat (3).
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Distribution

Range Description

This species is known only from the papyrus and reed beds surrounding Lac Alaotra, Madagascar's largest lake located in the eastern rain forest region (Mutschler and Feistner 1995). The species occurs as two subpopulations: a small one in the northern part of the lake around the Belempona Peninsula; and a larger one in the adjoining marshlands along the lake's southwestern shores bounded by the villages of Anororo, Andreba and Andilana-Sud (Mutschler et al. 2001). Its extent of occurrence (EOO) is estimated to be 216-519 km2, and it occurs only up to elevations of 750 m.
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Range

Endemic to Madagascar and found only in and around the largest lake of the island (6); Lac Alaotra, situated in central-eastern Madagascar (1). Today the Alaotran gentle lemur inhabits one of the most restricted ranges of any lemur species, and is found mainly in the southwest corner of the lake, although a tiny, isolated population also persists on the northern shore (3).
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Ecology

Habitat

Madagascar Subhumid Forests Habitat

The Lac Alaotra bamboo lemur (Hapalemur griseus aloatrensis) is strictly endemic to the Madagascar subhumid forests ecoregion. This ecoregion, coveris most of the Central Highlands of Madagascar, and boasts a considerable number of endemic species, found chiefly in the relict forest patches and also in some wetland areas. The rainfall here is approximately 1500 mm per year, although it may amount to as much as 2000 mm in the Sambirano area in the northwest and as little as 600 mm in the southwest.

The underlying geology of the ecoregion is mainly ancient Precambrian basement rocks that have been deformed and uplifted over millions of years. There are a few areas of more recent lava flows, and some alluvial deposits associated with wetlands. Vast grasslands now cover much of the central highlands at elevations ranging from 1000 to 1500 metres. The majority of this upland area was formerly forested, and native peoples have affected the fauna and flora through massive deforestation.

Many mammalian taxa are endemic to this ecoregion, including a number of lemurs and numerous shrews, tenrecs and rodents. A far larger number of species are near endemic, with the majority of these shared with the lowland forests to the east. At least 45 species of mammals are found only in the subhumid forest ecoregion and the lowland forest ecoregion of Madagascar and these include, for example, two species of bamboo lemurs (Hapalemur aureus and H. simus).

Of the endemic and near-endemic mammal species in the ecoregion, 12 species listed are on the IUCN Red List; nine species are considered vulnerable; two are endangered and one (the Alaotran gentle lemur) is critical. In the Analavelona forest a species of small mammal was recently discovered, Microgale nasoloi, that is only known from this site and the nearby Zombitse-Vohibasia Forest, the latter being classified in the Madagascar succulent woodlands ecoregion. In addition to the large number of mammalian endemics, there are many special status mammals in the ecoregion, including the Vulnerable Aquatic tenrec (Limnogale mergulus); the Near Threatened Aye aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis);

Two endemic bird species are found in the wetlands of this ecoregion, and others are confined to the subhumid forests or shared with other Madagascar ecoregions. In the wetlands, both the Alaotra little grebe (Tachybaptus rufolavatus) and the Madagascar pochard (Aythya innotata), are considered critically endangered and may be extinct. In the forests the endemic species include, for example, a new genus and species only named a few years ago called the cryptic warbler (Cryptosylvicola randrianasoloi), the yellow-browed oxylabes (Crossleyia xanthophrys), and the brown emutail (Dromaeocercus brunneus). Several other species of birds found here are limited to marshland habitats on Madagascar, including the slender-billed flufftail (Sarothrura watersi), Madagascar snipe (Gallinago macrodactyla), and Madagascar rail (Rallus madagascariensis). Further, Appert’s greenbul (Xanthomixis apperti), an endemic species with a very limited geographical distribution, is abundant on the upper reaches of the Analavelona Massif. More than 20 other bird species that occur in the subhumid forests of this ecoregion are shared only with the eastern lowland forests ecoregion.

The Madagascar subhumid forests hold more than twenty strictly endemic amphibians. Several groups of amphibians include more than one endemic species, such as the microhylids Rhombophryne testudo, Scaphiophryne goettliebi, the mantellids Vulnerable Elegant Madagascar frog (Spinomantis elegans); Mantella crocea, M. cowani, M. eiselti, Mantidactylus domerguei, and the Near Threatened Decary's Madagascar frog (Gephiyromantis decaryi); and the rhacophorids Boophis laurenti and B. microtympanum. Other notable amphibian endemics include:the Benavony stump-toed frog (Stumpffia gimmeli)/

There are a number of special status amphibians in the ecoregion including the Near Threatened Ambohimitombo bright-eyed frog (Boophis majori); the Vulnerable Andoany stump-toed frog (Stumpffia pygmaea); the Endangered Andringitra Madagascar Frog (Mantidactylus madecassus); and the Near Threatened Betsileo Bright-eyed Frog (Boophis rhodoscelis).

There are at least 25 strictly endemic reptiles in this ecoregion. These numbers include historically described species as well as newly identified taxa. Numerous speciess of chameleon and dwarf chameleon only occur in this ecoregion, including Calumma oshaughnessyi ambreensis, C. tsaratananensis, Furcifer petteri, Brookesia ambreesis, B. antakarana, B. lineata, and B. lolontany in the northern and northwestern portion; and C. fallax, F. campani, and F. minor in the central and southern portions. Otpher lizard species endemic to the ecoregion include the skinks Mabuya grnadidieri, M. madagascariensis, M. nancycoutouae, Amphiglossus meva, and Androngo crenni; the geckos Lygodactylus blanciL. decaryi and Phelsuma klemmeri, and the Plated lizard Zonosaurus ornatus. There are also a few endemic species of snakes including Pseudoxyrhopus ankafinensis, Liopholidophis grandidieri, and L. sexlineatus.


  • Du Puy, D.J. and Moat, J. 1996. A refined classification of the primary vegetation of Madagascar based on the underlying geology: using GIS to map its distribution and to assess its conservation status. In W.R. Lourenço (editor). Biogéographie de Madagascar, pp. 205-218, + 3 maps. Editions de l’ORSTOM, Paris. ISBN: 2709913240
  • World Wildlife Fund and C.MIchael Hogan/. 2015. Madagascar subhumid forests. Encyclopedia of Earth. National Council for Science and Environment. Washington DC
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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
In its unique marshland habitat (this is the only primate to live in marsh habitat) this lemur feeds principally on four food items: the pithy stems of papyrus (Cyperus madagascariensis), tender shoots of reeds (Phragmites communis), and two types of grasses (Echinocochla crusgalli and Leersia hexandra) (Mutschler 1999). Active mainly during daylight hours, H. alaotrensis also exhibits significant nocturnal activity. They live in family groups of up to a dozen members and defend territories ranging in size from less than one hectare to eight hectares. Young are born from September through February and twins are common (Mittermeier et al. 2008, and references therein).

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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This is the only primate adapted to live in reed and papyrus beds (3).
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
CR
Critically Endangered

Red List Criteria
A2cd

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2014

Assessor/s
Andriaholinirina, N., Baden, A., Blanco, M., Chikhi, L., Cooke, A., Davies, N., Dolch, R., Donati, G., Ganzhorn, J., Golden, C., Groeneveld, L.F., Hapke, A., Irwin, M., Johnson, S., Kappeler, P., King, T., Lewis, R., Louis, E.E., Markolf, M., Mass, V., Mittermeier, R.A., Nichols, R., Patel, E., Rabarivola, C.J., Raharivololona, B., Rajaobelina, S., Rakotoarisoa, G., Rakotomanga, B., Rakotonanahary, J., Rakotondrainibe, H., Rakotondratsimba, G., Rakotondratsimba, M., Rakotonirina, L., Ralainasolo, F.B., Ralison, J., Ramahaleo, T., Ranaivoarisoa, J.F., Randrianahaleo, S.I., Randrianambinina, B., Randrianarimanana, L., Randrianasolo, H., Randriatahina, G., Rasamimananana, H., Rasolofoharivelo, T., Rasoloharijaona, S., Ratelolahy, F., Ratsimbazafy, J., Ratsimbazafy, N., Razafindraibe, H., Razafindramanana, J., Rowe, N., Salmona, J., Seiler, M., Volampeno, S., Wright, P., Youssouf, J., Zaonarivelo, J. & Zaramody, A.

Reviewer/s
Schwitzer, C. & Molur, S.

Contributor/s

Justification
Listed as Critically Endangered as the species has been observed to have undergone a population decline of ≥80% over a period of 24 years (three generations), due primarily to continuing decline in area, extent and quality of habitat, in addition to exploitation through unsustainable hunting pressure. These causes have not ceased, and will to a large extent not be easily reversible.

History
  • 2000
    Critically Endangered
  • 1996
    Critically Endangered
  • 1994
    Endangered
    (Groombridge 1994)
  • 1990
    Endangered
    (IUCN 1990)
  • 1990
    Endangered
    (IUCN 1990)
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Status

Classified as Critically Endangered (CR) on the IUCN Red List (1), and listed on Appendix I of CITES (4).
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Population

Population
The most recent population estimate for H. alaotrensis is 2,500 remaining individuals (J. Ratsimbazafy pers. comm. 2013). Population numbers are in decline due to habitat destruction and hunting.

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
Conversion of marsh habitat to rice fields has been the most severe threat to the survival of this species, although the remaining marsh habitats are difficult to convert due to regular flooding. However, a major drainage project would pose a major threat if this were realized in the region. Burning of the remaining marshlands takes place to catch fish and to graze cattle. The resulting increase in aquatic plants is choking fishing areas and driving further burning and may also limit marsh regeneration after flooding.

Hunting for food and capture for pets also have reduced its numbers through the years. Local people employ a variety of hunting and trapping methods. Direct pursuit by dogs is the most common, but they may also be captured by using a harpoon, a snare, a stick to knock them out or into the water, or by burning their reed bed habitat, causing them to flee into the hands of waiting hunters. More than 1,000 lemurs have been hunted annually in some years (Mutschler et al. 2001).
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The Alaotran gentle lemur is extremely threatened due to its highly restricted range and specialised habitat. The area around Lac Alaotra is the largest area in Madagascar developed for rice cultivation and vast areas of the reed bed habitat have been burned and drained (1) to make way for paddy fields (6). In addition, reeds are themselves harvested for products such as mats, fish traps, screens and fencing (6). The species is also under pressure from hunting both for food and for the pet trade (6); deliberate fires are sometimes lit to force fleeing lemurs into the path of hunters (3).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
This species is listed on Appendix I of CITES. Lac Alaotra was declared a Ramsar site in 2003, and covers the entire watershed, 722,5000 ha, with the aim of conserving biodiversity and the wetland ecosystem. Thanks to the efforts of Durrell, a new 42,478 ha protected area was created there in 2007. This includes both a strict conservation area of 8,000 ha, and an adjacent 5,200-ha core zone of marsh where controlled activities (e.g., fishing) are permitted. Public awareness campaigns have focused on the benefits of habitat conservation to the half million or more people who live by the lake erosion control, the biological filtering of agricultural pollutants, flood prevention. A regional fishing convention bans lemur hunting and marsh burning. There is a small, but self-sustaining, captive population in a number of European zoos.
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Conservation

Lac Alaotra was declared a Ramsar site in 2003, with the aim of conserving biodiversity and the wetland ecosystem, and there are also plans to create a strict conservation area covering the site. Public awareness campaigns have focused on the benefits of habitat conservation to the people living around the lake, and a regional fishing convention bans lemur hunting and marsh burning (1). The Alaotran gentle lemur is protected from international trade by its listing on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) (4). There are currently small captive breeding programmes in several institutions, including at the Durrell Conservation Trust in Jersey (1) (2) (7). The highly restricted nature of this species' distribution however, means that it is vital that some of its habitat is protected to prevent yet another member of Madagascar's unique fauna from being lost.
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Wikipedia

Lac Alaotra bamboo lemur

The Lac Alaotra bamboo lemur (Hapalemur alaotrensis), also known as the Lac Alaotra gentle lemur, Alaotran bamboo lemur, Alaotran gentle lemur, or locally as the bandro, is a bamboo lemur. It is endemic to the reed beds in and around Lac Alaotra, in northeast Madagascar. This lemur is the only primate specifically adapted to living in papyrus reeds. Unlike other bamboo lemurs, the Lac Alaotra bamboo lemur does not eat bamboo; instead, it feeds on the stems of papyrus reeds, shoots of the grass Phragmites communis, and two other species of grasses (Echinochloa crus-galli and Leersia hexandra).[4]

Its tail and body are both 40 cm on average, and it weighs between 1.1 and 1.4 kg, with males slightly larger than females.[5] Its dense, woolly fur is a gray-brown on the back, lighter gray on the face and chest, and chestnut brown on the head and neck.[5]

The classification of the bandro is disputed, with some classifying it as a subspecies of Hapalemur griseus,[1] while others see it as a separate species.[3] Current genetic data do not support species status.[6] Mitochondrial DNA sequences from the two populations H. g. griseus and H. g. alaotrensis are interspersed with each other on the phylogenetic tree.[7] Moreover, average genetic distances between the two subspecies are within the range of within-taxon comparisons and not in the range of between-taxon comparisons. A final assessment of species versus subspecies status requires filling in gaps in sampling and the use of nuclear loci. GenBank, the universal repository for genetic sequence information, has not accepted the species status of the Aloatran lemur and lists it as a subspecies.[8]

The Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust has a Lac Alaotra bamboo lemur conservation program.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Andriaholinirina, N. et al. (2014). "Hapalemur alaotrensis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.1. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 2014-06-16. 
  2. ^ "Checklist of CITES Species". CITES. UNEP-WCMC. Retrieved 18 March 2015. 
  3. ^ a b Groves, C. P. (2005). Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M, eds. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 116. OCLC 62265494. ISBN 0-801-88221-4. 
  4. ^ Mutschler, T. (1999). "Folivory in a Small-Bodied Lemur". In Berthe Rakotosamimanana; Hanta Rasamimanana; Jörg U. Ganzhorn; Steven M. Goodman. New Directions in Lemur Studies. pp. 221–239. doi:10.1007/978-1-4615-4705-1_13. ISBN 978-1-4613-7131-1.  edit
  5. ^ a b Mittermeier, Russell A., Konstant, William R., Hawkins, Frank , Louis, Edward E., and Langrand, Olivier (2006). Lemurs of Madagascar (2nd edition ed.). Conservation International. pp. 222–225. Retrieved 2006-10-29. 
  6. ^ Pastorini, J., Forstner, M. R. J. and Martin, R. D. 2002. Phylogenetic relationships of gentle lemurs (Hapalemur). Evolutionary Anthropology 11, 150-154.
  7. ^ Figure 1 of Pastorini, J., Forstner, M. R. J. and Martin, R. D. 2002. Phylogenetic relationships of gentle lemurs (Hapalemur). Evolutionary Anthropology 11, 150-154
  8. ^ NCBI taxonomy database: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/Taxonomy/Browser/wwwtax.cgi
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