Madagascar is the world’s “hottest” biodiversity hotspot. Makira, a newly designated natural park in Madagascar, is home to six of the eight carnivore species that are unique to Madagascar, along with many threatened and endangered lemur species. The formidable fossa (Cryptoprocta ferox) is perhaps the most well-recognized of all of Makira’s species, if only because it was the villain in an animated movie. Understanding carnivore ecology is important to conservation all over the world because they can exert significant influences on other species. Unfortunately, there is not much information about carnivores in the eastern rainforests of Madagascar. Prior research in Makira has shown that increased habitat loss/degradation and human activity in the rainforests can be detrimental to both carnivores and lemurs.
My name is Asia Murphy and I’m currently a Master’s candidate in Wildlife Conservation at Virginia Tech. Co-advised by the ever-efficient Dr. Sarah Karpanty and the ever-busy Dr. Marcella Kelly, and funded by the National Science Foundation, I am building upon research already conducted by PhD student Zach Farris in collaboration with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and examining the effects that humans, habitat loss/degradation and exotic species have on a number of species in Makira. I will use data from historical camera trap and lemur surveys at seven sites (surveyed by Zach), in addition to re-running camera trap and lemur surveys at two of those sites. Three of these sites are intact forested sites, with relatively little human activity and fragmentation. The other four are fragmented, with lots of human activity.
My goal is to determine how many fossa are in Makira and examine how exotic species, human activity, lemurs and habitat loss/degradation affect fossa populations. I will also examine how those same factors affect other species, like lemurs, birds and small mammals. At the end of this study, I hope we will better understand the ecology of Madagascar’s top predator, as well as other rare and threatened species. This is necessary to conserve the incredibly diverse and threatened ecosystem that is Makira.
Please explore to learn more about the study and about the amazing place that is Makira!
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship under Grant No. DGE 0822220 . Any opinion, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.