Overview

Distribution

Range Description

This species is endemic to Madagascar where it is widely distributed in the eastern humid forests from the lowlands to around 700 m asl (Goodman, 2003). There is only one record of this species over 700 m, at 1,500 m asl (S.M. Goodman pers. comm.).
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Geographic Range

Broad-striped mongooses are found only in the eastern rainforests of Madagascar. These mongooses have been reported from the Mananara-Nord region in the north to the Réserve Naturelle Intégrale (RNI) d'Andohahela in the south. Other than second-hand reports, there is currently no firm evidence of Galidictis fasciata distribution further north than the Marojejy Massif, which is south of the Masoala Peninsula located in the extreme northeastern portion of the island.

Biogeographic Regions: ethiopian (Native )

Other Geographic Terms: island endemic

  • Nowak, R. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World, Sixth Edition. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press.
  • Garbutt, N. 1999. Mammals of Madagascar. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.
  • Goodman, S., J. Benstead. 2003. The Natural History of Madagascar. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Goodman, S., M. Pidgeon. 1998. Carnivora of the Réserve Naturelle Intérgrale d'Andohahela, Madagascar. Fieldiana: Zoology, No. 94: 259-268.
  • Goodman, S. 1996. The Carnivores of the Réserve Naturelle Intégrale d'Andringitra, Madagascar. Fieldiana: Zoology, No. 85: 289-292.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

Broad-striped mongooses have nimble, low to the ground bodies. They are small to medium in size, comparable to American martens. They have short legs and long bushy tails. Their heads are long, slender and dorso-ventrally flattened with a pointed rostrum. Broad-striped mongooses may be confused with the introduced carnivore Viverricula indica which has similar coloration.

Galidictis fasciata can be identified by its distinctive grey-beige pelage extending to the under-belly. The body has about five longitudinal dark brown or black stripes that are broader than the creamy-beige spaces separating them, and continue from the nape dorsally to about one third the length of the tail. The top of the head is darker than the cheeks, chin and throat. The very distinctive tails are a creamy white. Ears are small and are covered with short, fine fur.  The only other species of Galidictis, Galadictis grandidieri, has dark stipes which are narrower than the lighter spaces; the outermost portion of the ear lacks fur.

Various sources list weights between 500 and 800 grams, with a mean adult body mass of 605 grams. Length of head and body is 320 to 340 mm and tail length is 280 to 300 mm. Females are slightly smaller and lighter than males. Feet have longer digits, longer claws, and less webbing than other herpestids.

Range mass: 380 to 800 g.

Average mass: 605 g.

Range length: 550 to 640 mm.

Average length: 570 mm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: male larger

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
This is a nocturnal, and largely terrestrial, species of lowland tropical humid forest. It appears to be limited to forests on lateritic soils, and is seldom encountered outside of the forest, although there are apparently records from degraded forest (Schreiber et al. 1989). There are few details available on reproduction in this species (Goodman 2003). Its morphology indicates that it is capable of predating species at or possibly above its body weight.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Observations of the distribution of G. fasciata range from 440 meters to approximately 1500 meters elevation, from lowland to montane forest. Although mostly terrestrial, broad-striped mongooses have been observed climbing in trees, and on large, fallen logs.

Range elevation: 440 to 1500 m.

Average elevation: 810 m.

Habitat Regions: tropical ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: forest ; rainforest ; mountains

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Trophic Strategy

Food Habits

It has been surmised that broad-striped mongooses feed largely on rodents, small lemurs, and even reptiles and amphibians. There isn't any strong evidence of G. fasciata eating lemurs. Also, it is suggested that they feed on invertebrates. Field studies of tropical forest carnivores may be difficult because of their nocturnal, often solitary habits, and difficulty in luring them into traps.

Animal Foods: mammals; amphibians; insects

Primary Diet: carnivore (Eats terrestrial vertebrates)

  • Ray, J., M. Sunquist. 2001. Trophic relations in a community of African rainforest carnivores. Oecologia, 127: 395-408.
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Associations

Ecosystem Roles

Because this species is so poorly studied, it is difficult to determine what role it plays within its ecosystem. As a predator, G. fasciata probably has some impact on prey populations. It may compete with other small carnivores, but details of such interactions are lacking.

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Predation

It is not known whether G. fasciata is preyed upon or not.

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Communication and Perception

At this time, it is unknown how broad-striped mongooses communicate or perceive the environment. As mammals, it is likely that they use some combination of tactile, visual, chemical, and accoustic cues in dealing both with their environment and with each other.

Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

Perception Channels: visual ; acoustic

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Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

Although accounts do exist of Galidictis species in captivity, these do not incorporate data from any extended period of time. Otherwise, little is known about the lifespan of broad-striped mongooses. Other Malagasy mongooses kept in captivity show a great variation in lifespan. A Malagasy ring-tailed mongoose is reported to have lived over 24 years in captivity. However, a Malagasy brown-tailed mongoose is reported to have lived only 4 years and 9 months. It is not known where in this spectrum of variation Galidictis species fall.

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Reproduction

Currently, knowledge is lacking about the reproductive activities of G. fasciata. Garbutt (1999) suggests that these rarely seen animals are probably pair bonded, and so are likely to be monogamous. The lack of highly developed sexual dimorphism supports this possible mating system.

Seasonality and reproductive activity of G. fasciata and its close relative G. grandidieri are currently not known. A female captured in November did not show reproductive characteristics. It has been determined that the maximum number of mammae is two. Males captured in October and late November did have scrotal testes volume of 1884 mm. This species has been observed to have a maximum litter size of one.

Other herpestids found on Madagascar may provide some clues about the reproduction of this rarely seen mammal. Malagasy ring-tailed mongooses breed seasonally, from April until November. Young are born between July and February, after a gestation of 79 to 92 days. Conversely, Malagasy narrow-striped mongooses breed from December to April, with mating peaking in the Malagasy summer months of February and March. These mongooses have a slightly longer gestation period, reported as 90 to 105 days. Both of these herspestid species typically give birth to a single young. In the latter species, the young is weaned at about 2 months of age. In both species, the young appear to reach sexual maturity around 2 years of age, and have an extended association with parents. Galidictis fasciata is probably similar to the other Malagasy herpestids in these characteristics, but more research is needed to know for sure.

Breeding interval: There animals probably breed annually.

Breeding season: The breeding season of Galidictis fasciata is not known.

Range number of offspring: 1 (high) .

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); fertilization ; viviparous

Nothing is known about parental investment of G. fasciata. Depite paucity of data, we can reasonably infer that females care for the young, providing them with shelter, milk, and protection at least until the time of weaning. If G. fasciata is like other Malagasy herpestids, specifically Mungotictis decemlineata, the young may remain with the mother until sexually mature, around the age of 2 years. The role of males in parental care is not known, and further research is needed to clarify the exact relationship between the mother and her young.

Parental Investment: altricial ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-independence (Protecting: Female)

  • Nowak, R. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World, Sixth Edition. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press.
  • Garbutt, N. 1999. Mammals of Madagascar. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.
  • Goodman, S., J. Benstead. 2003. The Natural History of Madagascar. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
NT
Near Threatened

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
Hawkins, A.F.A.

Reviewer/s
Hoffmann, M. (Global Mammal Assessment Team) & Duckworth, J.W. (Small Carnivore Red List Authority)

Contributor/s

Justification
This species is widely dispersed from north to south through eastern Madagascar forests, but at low densities. Over the last 10 years, the population reduction of this species based on the combined impacts of habitat loss (especially given its habitat requirements) and the effects of feral carnivores, is estimated at 20-25%, and the species is therefore listed as Near Threatened. Almost qualifies as threatened under criterion A2c.

History
  • 2000
    Vulnerable
  • 1996
    Vulnerable
  • 1994
    Indeterminate
    (Groombridge 1994)
  • 1990
    Indeterminate
    (IUCN 1990)
  • 1988
    Indeterminate
    (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)
  • 1986
    Insufficiently Known
    (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1986)
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The IUCN currently lists G. fasciata as vunerable. Human advancement into the forests, logging, and clearing are decreasing habitat. There is competition for resources, mainly dietary, from small Indian civets, Viverricula indica, as well as from feral cats and dogs, all of which have been introduced.

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: near threatened

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Population

Population
The population status of this species is not well known, although it generally appears to occur at low densities (Goodman 2003) and is detected very rarely (F. Hawkins pers. comm.). This is supported by trapping data in some eastern forest sites (L. Dollar, unpubl.). A survey in 1994 in Masoala, recorded only a single individual over the course of 2.5 months (Razafimahatratra pers. comm.).

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
It is threatened by deforestation of its habitat through conversion to cultivated land and logging. There are no data on hunting, but the species is probably killed by dogs accompanying hunters in the forest. A minor threat may be competition with the introduced Viverricula indica and feral cats and dogs may threaten this species.
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
It has been recorded from a number of protected areas, including Marojejy, Masoala, Zahamena and Ranomafana National Parks. Further studies into the ecology of this little-known species are needed.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse affects of G. fasciata on humans.

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

No information is available on the positive economic importance G. fasciata has for humans.

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Wikipedia

Broad-striped Malagasy mongoose

The broad-striped Malagasy mongoose (Galidictis fasciata) is a species of mongoose. It is a forest-dweller native to eastern Madagascar. The specific epithet fasciata means ‘banded’ in Latin. Its local common name is vontsira fotsy, ‘white vontsira’ in Malagasy.[3]

The species contains two known subspecies: G. f. striata and G. f. fasciata. Their main distinguishing factors are their stripes and their tails; the former has a thinner, white tail and 5 stripes, while the latter has a fuller, reddish-brown tail and 8-10 stripes. The mongoose primary prey on small rodents. This species is most active in the evening and at night.

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