The lemurs of Madagascar face probable extinction within the next half-century if adequate conservation programs are not developed. Habitat loss remains the major threat to primate survival, with this island country being one of the top eight hotspots in terms of biodiversity and ongoing habitat loss, and the endemic lemurs being the most endangered primate taxa. A more in-depth understanding of how lemurs are currently responding to habitat change is thus vital. Towards that end, the Lemur Biology Project is an inter-disciplinary effort that focuses on how geographic and anthropogenic factors affect the behavior, demography, health, and genetics of endangered lemurs at the Beza Mahafaly Special Reserve in Madagascar (BMSR). This project is headed by Dr. Michelle Sauther of the University of Colorado, Boulder and Dr. Frank Cuozzo of the University of North Dakota.
The specific objectives of the Beza Mahafaly Lemur Biology Project are:
- To develop behavior, demographic, health and nutrition, developmental and genetic profiles for a population of lemurs living in and around the Beza Mahafaly Special Reserve, Madagascar
- To compare these values among groups living within the protected reserve with naturally fragmented habitats and areas near human habitation to identify how both natural and human-induced habitat variation affect these parameters
- To collect parasite and infectious disease data to develop a priority list for diseases that can have an impact on these rare lemur species.