A new study led by Mitch Irwin and Karen Samonds of Northern Illinois University finds that degraded rainforest habitats are having an unhealthy impact on at least one species of Madagascar’s treasured lemurs, the most endangered mammal group in the world.
Irwin, Samonds and other research team members captured, measured and released 113 critically endangered diademed sifakas over the course of 19 years. They then compared the health of the animals living in intact continuous rainforest versus those in habitats disturbed and fragmented by human encroachment.
Working with a veterinarian to ensure animal safety, the scientists recorded the body mass, length and body condition of the stunning silken-furred primates, which grow to be roughly a meter in length and weigh in at about 6.5 kilograms. The results actually revealed that sifakas in some fragmented rainforest environments were doing fine—their bodies were identical to those animals in the richest environments. MORE
Header image: A diademed sifaka lemur in Madagascar’s Tsinjoarivo forest. Credit: Mitch Irwin, Northern Illinois University.