Consistency in Verreaux's sifaka home range and core area size despite seasonal variation in resource availability as assessed by Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI)

Anne C. Axel, Brynn M. Harshbarger, Rebecca J. Lewis, Stacey R. Tecot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Primates are adept at dealing with fluctuating availability of resources and display a range of responses to minimize the effects of food scarcity. An important component of primate conservation is to understand how primates adapt their foraging and ranging patterns in response to fluctuating food resources. Animals optimize resource acquisition within the home range through the selection of resource-bearing patches and choose between contrasting foraging strategies (resource-maximizing vs. area-minimizing). Our study aimed to characterize the foraging strategy of a folivorous primate, Verreaux's sifaka (Propithecus verreauxi), by evaluating whether group home range size varied between peak and lean leaf seasons within a seasonally dry tropical forest in Madagascar. We hypothesized that Verreaux's sifaka used the resource maximization strategy to select high-value resource patches so that during periods of resource depression, the home range area did not significantly change in size. We characterized resource availability (i.e., primary productivity) by season at Kirindy Mitea National Park using remotely-sensed Enhanced Vegetation Index data. We calculated group home ranges using 10 years of focal animal sampling data collected on eight groups using both 95% and 50% kernel density estimation. We used area accumulation curves to ensure each group had an adequate number of locations to reach seasonal home range asymptotes. Neither 95% home ranges nor 50% core areas differed across peak and lean leaf resource seasons, supporting the hypothesis that Verreaux's sifaka use a resource maximization strategy. With a better understanding of animal space use strategies, managers can model anticipated changes under environmental and/or anthropogenic resource depression scenarios. These findings demonstrate the value of long-term data for characterizing and understanding foraging and ranging patterns. We also illustrate the benefits of using satellite data for characterizing food resources for folivorous primates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican Journal of Primatology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

Keywords

  • food availability
  • lemur
  • remote sensing
  • space use
  • strepsirrhine
  • territory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology

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