Overview

Distribution

Coquerel’s sifakas (Propithecus coquereli) are endemic to Madagascar. This species resides in dry deciduous forests found to the north and east of the Betsiboka River. It has been reported as far north as Bealanana, as far south as Ambato-Boeni, and to the east in the vicinity of Antetemasy. It can be found in Ankarafantsika National Park as well as the Bora Special Reserve. Documented sightings have occurred in the coastal mangroves of Baie de Mahajamba.

Biogeographic Regions: ethiopian (Native )

Other Geographic Terms: island endemic

  • Duke Lemur Center. 2011. "Coquerel's Sifaka" (On-line). Duke Lemur Center Studying and Caring for Lemurs. Accessed February 18, 2011 at http://lemur.duke.edu/category/diurnal-lemurs/coquerels-sifaka/.
  • International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. 2008. "Propithecus coquereli" (On-line). Accessed January 24, 2011 at http://www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/details/18355/0/full/print.
  • Pastorini, J., M. Forstner, R. Martin. 2001. Phylogenetic History of Sifakas (Propithecus: Lemuriformes) Derived from mtDNA Sequences. American Journal of Primatology, 53: 1-17.
  • Rakotoarisoa, G., G. Shore, S. Mcguire, S. Engberg, E. Louis, R. Brenneman. 2006. Characterization of 20 microsatellite marker loci in Coquerel's sifaka (Propithecus coquereli). Molecular Ecology Notes, 6: 1119-1121.
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Range Description

This species is found throughout the forested areas of north-western Madagascar to the north and east of the Betsiboka River. Its most southerly occurrence is reportedly Ambato-Boéni, its northern limit is near Bealanana, and its eastern boundary is near Antetemasy (just west of Befandriana Nord). It occurs from near sea-level to 300 m (Mittermeier et al. 2013).
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Physical Description

Morphology

Coquerel’s sifakas have dorsal pelage and limbs that are predominately white. They have large chocolate-brown markings on the front of the arms, thighs and chest, which may differ slightly in size and placement. The fur is quite dense. The back may be a pale silver-gray or brown, while the tail ranges in color from silver-gray to white. Short white hairs cover the muzzle and the face is black. They have small, black ears that protrude through the surrounding fur. Males can be differentiated from females by their gular (throat) gland, which stains the surrounding skin and hair, as well as the dark red-brown color of the perianal skin. Coquerel’s sifaka range in mass from 3.7 to 4.3 kg.

Range mass: 3.7 to 4.3 kg.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: sexes colored or patterned differently

  • Jolly, A. 1966. Lemur Behavior: A Madagascar Field Study. Chicago: The University of Chicago.
  • Kappeler, P. 1991. Patterns of Sexual Dimorphism in Body Weight among Prosimian Primates. International Journal of Primatology, 57: 132-146.
  • Richard, A. 2003. Propithecus, Sifakas. Pp. 1345-1348 in S Goodman, J Benstead, eds. The Natural History of Madagascar. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
  • Tattersall, I. 1982. The Primates of Madagascar. New York: Colombia University Press.
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Ecology

Habitat

Coquerel’s sifaka inhabit old growth and secondary growth forests of mixed deciduous and evergreen trees, from sea level to 300 m above sea level. They also travel through scrub habitat when traveling between fragmented forest patches.

Range elevation: 0 to 300 m.

Habitat Regions: tropical ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: forest ; rainforest ; scrub forest

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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
This diurnal vertical clinger and leaper is most commonly found in mixed deciduous and evergreen forests, and often in brush-and-scrub and secondary formations as well; also sighted in coastal mangroves on Baie de Mahajamba. They occasionally descend to the ground. In the forests of Ankarafantsika it is seen in groups of three to 10 with home ranges of 4-9 ha (Petter 1962, Albignac 1981). Sexual maturity is reached at roughly 2.5 years of age for both genders. Births are clustered in the months of June and July. A gestation period of 162 days normally leads to a single young born (Richard 1978, 1987). Infants become completely independent by about six months of age and reach adult size by one year (Mittermeier et al. 2008, and references therein).

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Trophic Strategy

Coquerel’s sifaka eats immature and mature leaves, seeds, flowers, fruit and bark. The majority of their diet consists of leaves, and their teeth are well-adapted for slicing and grinding plant material. Their total diet includes 75 to 100 different plant species; however, 60 to 80% of the time they feed on only 10% of these species. It has been suggested that Coquerel’s sifakas are opportunistic feeders as dominant forage plants change with season. Their enlarged cecum and colon helps facilitate digestion of their highly fibrous diet. Undigested beans have been found in feces, and it has been proposed that nourishment is obtained from the casing rather than the bean itself. Captive individuals at the Duke Lemur Center are primarily fed shining leaf sumac and mimosa. Between 30 to 40% of the day is spent foraging, with peak foraging activity occurring during morning, midday, and late-afternoon. Foraging bouts are separated by rest, and when foraging, they remain within their territories and spend the majority of the time within a core area. The majority of aggression found between sexes is related to feeding. Females commonly exhibit dominance during foraging bouts. Female dominance during feeding likely plays an important role during gestation and lactation. Females usually exercise dominance by controlling access to preferred food or feeding areas by being the first to feed or feeding until satisfied and then allowing males to access the food

Plant Foods: leaves; wood, bark, or stems; seeds, grains, and nuts; flowers

Primary Diet: herbivore (Folivore )

  • Campbell, J., K. Glenn, B. Grossi, J. Eisemann. 2001. Use of Local North Carolina Browse Species to Supplement the Diet of a Captive Colony of Folivorous Primates (Propithecus sp.). Zoo Biology, 20: 447-461.
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Associations

Coquerel’s sifaka are prey for a number of native and introduced vertebrate predators. As seed predators, Coquerel’s sifaka may help disperse seeds as well. There is no information available regarding parasites of this species.

Ecosystem Impact: disperses seeds

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Coquerel’s sifakas are preyed upon by hawks and other raptors, constrictor snakes as well as the puma-like fossa, the largest mammalian carnivore found on Madagascar. Aerial predators would be of most danger to the infants. Introduced predators include feral dogs, African wildcats, European wildcats, large Indian civets and Egyptian mongooses. The most imminent threat to Coquerel’s sifakas is humans, which hunt them for food and sport. In the past, the Malagasy people did not hunt sifakas because it was considered “fady” or taboo; however, there are reports that hunger is overpowering this custom. Populations of Coquerel's sifakas that have been hunted in the past flee from humans; if not, they may give a general alarm call. Numerous reports describe being approached by a group of Coquerel’s sifakas on the ground. All members of the group give alarm calls and head jerks while approaching humans. One report documented a group coming within 3 to 5 m. Between alarm calls, they were said to stare and weave their heads back and forth. Roaring barks are made for aerial predators and "sifaka" calls are made for terrestrial predators. Neighboring groups often return alarm calls after searching the local area for potential predators.

Known Predators:

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Coquerel’s sifakas engage in auditory, visual and olfactory communication. Alarm calls used for aerial predators are often described as roaring barks and growls. General alarm calls, which sound like "sifaka" with an explosive clicking sound at the end, are used to alert group members of terrestrial predators. When separated from their group, Coquerel's sifakas emit a loud, extended wail. Facial expressions and body postures include a play face where the mouth is held open in a silent laugh, and head jerks where the head is thrown quickly back while calling when facing a predator. Polymorphic trichromacy, which allows them to see a full range of colors, was recently discovered in Coquerel’s sifaka. Both males and females use of the anogenital region, the area between the anus and the genitala, for scent marking. Males also use the gular gland for scent marking branches and tree trunks. Both males and females scant mark with urine as well. Males touch the end of the penis to a tree trunk while clinging to it and move up the trunk about 50 cm leaving a line of urine. Vertical trunk marking is less common in females; however, they may press their body to the tree trunk while they climb a short ways up to leave a similar mark as males. The markings are thought to display sex of the marker as well as reproductive status of females since markings greatly increase in frequency during mating season.

Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

Other Communication Modes: scent marks

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

  • Fichtel, C., C. P. van Schaik. 2006. Semantic Differences in Sifaka (Propithecus verreauxi) Alarm Calls: A Reflection of Genetic or Cultural Variants?. Ethology, 112: 839-849.
  • Hayes, A., T. Morelli, P. Wright. 2005. The Chemistry of Scent Marking in Two Lemurs: Lemur catta and Propithecus verreauxi coquereli. Pp. 159-167 in R Mason, M LeMaster, D Muller-Schawarze, eds. Chemical Signals in Vertebrates 10. New York: Springer Science Business+Media, Inc.
  • Veilleux, C., D. Bolnick. 2009. Opsin Gene Polymorphism Predicts Trichromacy in a Cathemeral Lemur. American Journal of Primatology, 71: 86-90.
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Life Expectancy

In the wild, Coquerel's sifakas live between 27 and 30 years. The oldest known individual in the wild was 30 years old. In captivity, they live between 25 and 30 years, and the oldest known captive individual, held at the Duke Lemur Center, lived to be 31 years old.

Range lifespan

Status: wild:
30 (high) years.

Range lifespan

Status: captivity:
31 (high) years.

Typical lifespan

Status: wild:
30 (high) years.

Average lifespan

Status: wild:
27 years.

Typical lifespan

Status: captivity:
25 to 30 years.

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Reproduction

Coquerel’s sifakas have synchronized estrous which occurs during January and February. Exact timing can be predicted from the two day flushing of the vulva found in females in the precopulatory period. Females mate with intragroup males or males from visiting groups. They appear to be polyandrous, which may serve to confuse paternity and impede male infanticide. Males have been witnessed fighting over access to estrous females, however, the victor isn't always chosen to mate. Coquerel’s sifakas appear to continue reproducing regardless of senescence. The oldest reproducing individual on record was 24 years old, and animals have been known to reproduce the year they die.

Mating System: polyandrous

Gestation in Coquerel’s sifakas lasts for approximately 162 days. Typically, a single infant is born during the dry season, which occurs during June and July. Newborns weigh between 85 and 115 g at birth, with an average weight of 100 g. Infants cling to the mother's venter during travel until they are about 1 month old, at which point they move to the dorsum. Infants are weaned during the wet season at approximately 5 to 6 months of age and are completely independent after 6 months. Most individuals reach adult size in 1 to 5 years, depending on habitat conditions and forage availability. Estimated age of sexual maturity for both males and females is reportedly 2 to 3.5 years of age. Females have been known to give birth for the first time at 3 years of age, while others have others have been reported to have their first offspring at the age of 6. Hybridizations can occur between closely related species such as Propithecus verreauxi, which was once considered a subspecies of Coquerel’s sifakas.

Breeding interval: Propithecus coquereli breeds once yearly.

Breeding season: Propithecus coquereli breeds during January and February.

Average number of offspring: 1.

Average gestation period: 162 days.

Range weaning age: 5 to 6 months.

Average time to independence: 6 months.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 2 to 6 years.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 3.5 years.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 2 (low) years.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 3.5 years.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; viviparous

Coquerel's sifakas have a maximum of 2 offspring per group per year, presumably due to the high costs of reproduction. Females give birth every other year and must increase their basal metabolic rate before and during parturition. As with most mammals, the most energetically expensive aspect of reproduction is lactation, which occurs during the dry season and lasts for 5 to 6 months. Although rare, males and juveniles have been observed carrying infants. Information on paternal care is limited, however, the highest ranking male in the group offers limited support to females and their young.

Parental Investment: altricial ; female parental care ; pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Male, Female); extended period of juvenile learning

  • Bastian, M., D. Brockman. 2007. Paternal Care in Propithecus verreauxi coquereli. International Journal of Primatology, 28: 305-313.
  • Duke Lemur Center. 2011. "Coquerel's Sifaka" (On-line). Duke Lemur Center Studying and Caring for Lemurs. Accessed February 18, 2011 at http://lemur.duke.edu/category/diurnal-lemurs/coquerels-sifaka/.
  • Grieser, B. 1992. Infant Development and Paternal Care in Two Species of Sifakas. Primates, 33: 305-314.
  • International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. 2008. "Propithecus coquereli" (On-line). Accessed January 24, 2011 at http://www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/details/18355/0/full/print.
  • Jolly, A. 1966. Lemur Behavior: A Madagascar Field Study. Chicago: The University of Chicago.
  • Kappeler, P. 1991. Patterns of Sexual Dimorphism in Body Weight among Prosimian Primates. International Journal of Primatology, 57: 132-146.
  • Richard, A. 1978. Behavioral Variation: Case Study of a Malagasy Lemur. Cranbury, New Jersey: Associated University Presses, Inc.
  • Richard, A. 2003. Propithecus, Sifakas. Pp. 1345-1348 in S Goodman, J Benstead, eds. The Natural History of Madagascar. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
  • Taylor, L. 2008. Old Lemurs: Preliminary Data on Behavior and Reproduction from the Duke University Primate Center. Pp. 319-333 in J Fleagle, C Gilbert, eds. Elwyn Simons: A Search for Origins. New York: Springer Science Business+Media, LLC.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Propithecus coquereli

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 2 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.

Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.

See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

AACCGTTGATTATACTCAACAAACCATAAAGATATCGGAACTCTTTACTTATTATTTGGAGCCTGAGCAGGTATAGTAGGAACAGCCCTC---AGCCTCCTTATTCGTGCGGAACTTGGCCAACCAGGAACTCTATTAGGAGAC---GACCAAATTTATAATGTGATTGTCACGGCCCATGCTTTCGTCATAATCTTCTTTATAGTAATACCTATTATAATTGGTGGCTTCGGTAATTGATTAGTCCCTCTAATA---ATTGGAGCGCCTGATATAGCATTTCCTCGAATAAACAACATGAGCTTCTGACTCCTACCCCCATCCTTTCTTCTCCTTCTTGCTTCCTCAATAGTAGAAGCTGGTGCAGGGACAGGGTGAACAGTATATCCACCCCTAGCAGGAAATTTAGCCCATGCAGGAGCTTCCGTAGACCTA---ACCATCTTCTCCCTACATCTAGCAGGAGTATCTTCTATTTTAGGGGCTATTAACTTCATCACCACAGTAATTAACATAAAACCCCCAGCCATATCACAATACCAAACCCCCTTATTTGTATGATCTGTAATAATTACAGCTGTACTCCTACTACTATCTTTACCAGTCTTAGCAGCA---GGTATTACAATACTCTTAACTGACCGCAACCTAAATACTACTTTCTTCGATCCTGCTGGAGGTGGAGATCCTATTTTATATCAACACTTATTCTGATTCTTCGGACACCCCGAAGTATATATTCTAATTCTACCTGGTTTCGGAATAATCTCTCATATCGTCACATATTATTCAGGCAAAAAA---GAACCATTCGGGTATATGGGTATAGTTTGAGCCATAATATCCATTGGCTTCTTAGGCTTTATTGTGTGAGCTCACCATATATTCACAGTTGGTATGGACGTAGACACCCGCGCATACTTCACATCAGCTACTATAATCATCGCTATCCCCACGGGCGTAAAAGTCTTCAGCTGATTA---GCTACA
-- end --

Download FASTA File

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Propithecus coquereli

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 2
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

Coquerel’s sifakas are classified as an endangered species on the IUCN's Red List of Threatened Species. The most immediate threat is habitat loss due to deforestation and slash and burn farming. Trees are either cleared for farming, raising livestock or for charcoal production. In addition to reducing the amount of potential habitat for Coquerel's sifakas, deforestation also reduces forage availability. Hunting pressure is also a major concern. Coquerel's sifakas are currently found in two protected areas: the Ankarafantsika National Park and the Bora Special Reserve. However, illegal hunting is thought to be common in these areas as well. Increased predation by introduced species has negatively impacted this species as well. PAW (Projects for Animal Welfare) of Madagascar was founded in 2011 to combat the threat of introduced cats and dogs. The group is a non-profit that seeks to spay and neuter the population of cats and dogs on the island so that they will not threaten the native wildlife. Coquerel's sifakas are listed under Appendix 1 by CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: appendix i

State of Michigan List: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: endangered

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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
EN
Endangered

Red List Criteria
A2acd

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2014

Assessor/s
Andriaholinirina, N., Baden, A., Blanco, M., Chikhi, L., Cooke, A., Davies, N., Dolch, R., Donati, G., Ganzhorn, J., Golden, C., Groeneveld, L.F., Irwin, M., Johnson, S., Kappeler, P., King, T., Lewis, R., Louis, E.E., Markolf, M., Mass, V., Mittermeier, R.A., Nichols, R., Patel, E., Rabarivola, C.J., Raharivololona, B., Rajaobelina, S., Rakotoarisoa, G., Rakotomanga, B., Rakotonanahary, J., Rakotondrainibe, H., Rakotondratsimba, G., Rakotondratsimba, M., Rakotonirina, L., Ralainasolo, F.B., Ralison, J., Ramahaleo, T., Ranaivoarisoa, J.F., Randrianahaleo, S.I., Randrianambinina, B., Randrianarimanana, L., Randrianasolo, H., Randriatahina, G., Rasamimananana, H., Rasolofoharivelo, T., Rasoloharijaona, S., Ratelolahy, F., Ratsimbazafy, J., Ratsimbazafy, N., Razafindraibe, H., Razafindramanana, J., Rowe, N., Salmona, J., Seiler, M., Volampeno, S., Wright, P., Youssouf, J., Zaonarivelo, J. & Zaramody, A.

Reviewer/s
Schwitzer, C. & Molur, S.

Contributor/s
Clark, F.

Justification
Listed as Endangered as the species is suspected to have undergone a population decline of ≥50% over a period of 52.5 years (three generations), due primarily to observed continuing decline in area, extent and quality of habitat due to slash-and-burn agriculture, annual burning to generate new pasture for livestock, and forests cut to produce charcoal, in addition to exploitation through unsustainable hunting pressure. These causes have not ceased, and will to a large extent not be easily reversible. Assuming population reductions to continue, this species may need to be uplisted to Critically Endangered in the near future.

History
  • 2000
    Endangered
  • 1996
    Endangered
  • 1990
    Vulnerable
    (IUCN 1990)
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Population

Population
Population figures are in decline due to habitat loss and hunting. An estimated 200,000 individuals are thought to remain (Mittermeier et al. 2008).

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
This species is severely threatened by habitat destruction and hunting, to which its restricted distribution makes it particularly susceptible. Slash-and-burn agriculture and annual burning to generate new pasture for livestock are the principle causes of forest loss, but trees in this part of Madagascar are also cut to produce charcoal. All of these practices are a problem even in offiically protected areas. Hunting for food is an increasing pressure; local traditions place taboos on the practice, but immigration to the region is changing these beliefs.


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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
This species is listed on Appendix I of CITES. The only two protected areas in which it is known to occur are the Ankarafantsika National Park and the Bora Special Reserve; however, hunting pressure on sifakas is significant in Ankarafantsika (Garcia and Goodman 2003) and Bora has become seriously degraded. Populations of P. coquereli have also been reported from the forests of Anjiamanginana, Anjajavy, the Narinda Peninsula, and Mariarano, which should be considered for protected area status (Mittermeier et al. 2008). As of 2010, 48 individuals of this species are represented in a small number of zoos in the United States, as well as the Lemur Park in Madagascar (I.J. Porton pers. comm., C. Schwitzer pers. obs.).
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

There are no known adverse effects of Coquerel’s sifaka on humans'.

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Coquerel’s sikafas have been the subject of many studies that may provide insight on the evolutionary history of primates, specifically that of humans. They have also been the subject of various research efforts, including those investigating the evolution of color vision, female dominated society, evolution of paternal care, and causes of speciation. Coquerel's sifakas are commonly hunted by the people of Madagascar. In addition, because lemurs are endemic to Madagascar, the emerging eco-tourism industry benefits significantly from their presence.

Positive Impacts: food ; ecotourism ; research and education

  • Mayor, M., J. Sommer, M. Houck, J. Zaonarivelo, P. Wright, C. Ingram, S. Engel, E. Louis. 2004. Specific Status of Propithecus spp.. International Journal of Primatology, 25/4: 875-900.
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