Madagascar Succulent Woodlands Habitat
This species can be found in the Madagascar succulent woodlands ecoregion, which comprises a mosaic of succulent xeric adapted plants and deciduous forests that represent critical habitats for many species of animals and plants restricted to the western region of Madagascar. The succulent woodland ecoregion exhibits a tropical dry climate with a distinct dry season between May and October. During the wet season, November to April, rainfall may reach 750 millimetres (mm), within a yearly range of 575 mm to 1330 mm.
The geology of the western part of the ecoregion comprises unconsolidated sands on the coast and Tertiary limestones and sandstones inland. In the southern part of the ecoregion, there are also metamorphic and igneous basement rocks. The soils are generally sandy with richer alluvial soils around river areas. The flora species often have water storage adaptations, stem photosynthesis, and remain without leaves for long periods. Forests of the ecoregion may reach 15 m in height, with the endemic baobabs (Bombaceae family) Adansonia za and A. grandidieri as distinctive emergent species. Other canopy species belong to the families Euphorbiaceae and Leguminosae including several endemic species of Pachypodium. The shrub layer consists of the families Sapindaceae, Euphorbiaceae, Anacardiaceae, and Burseraceae.
Five mammals are endemic to this ecoregion: narrow striped mongoose (Mungotictis decemlineata decemlineata), pale fork-marked lemur (Phaner furcifer pallescens), the giant jumping rat, Berthe's mouse lemur (Microcebus berthae) and the red-tailed sportive lemur (Lepilemur ruficaudatus). Near-endemics include the large-eared tenrec (Geogale aurita), the lesser hedgehog tenrec (Echinops telfairi), and Coquerel's dwarf lemur (Mirza coquerli). Verreaux's sifaka (Propithecus verreauxi verreauxi), and the red-fronted brown lemur (Eulemur fulvus rufus) are both found in this ecoregion. Several animal species have the entirety of their very localized ranges within this ecoregion.
Among the bird taxa, Appert's greenbul (Xanthomixis apperti) and the white-breasted mesite (Mesitornis variegata), are considered endemic to this ecoregion. The following species are near-endemic: Madagascar teal (Anas bernieri), Madagascar plover (Charadrius thoracicus), and long-tailed ground-roller (Uratelornis chimaera). Out of the above birds, one is threatened (Madagascar teal), and three are considered vulnerable (white-breasted mesite, long-tailed ground-roller, Madagascar plover). The red-capped coua (Coua ruficeps) is found throughout this ecoregion.
Some of the ecoregion endemic reptiles include Oplurus cuvieri, Chalarodon madagascariensis, and the gecko Phelsuma standingi. Pyxis planicauda has a narrow distribution range within the ecoregion. One gecko species, Paroedura vazimba, is only known from Zombitse-Vohibasia National Park. A least two frog species are endemic to this region: the hyperollid Heterixalus luteostriatus and the mycrohylid Dyscophus insularis. The rare snake Liophidium chabaudi occurs in this ecoregion, as well as numerous other species with limited distributions such as Mabuya tandrefana, Furcifer antimena, and Brookesia brygooi.
There are exactly six anuran species found in the Madagascar succulent woodlands: Antsouhy tomato frog (Dyscophus insularis); Brown rainfrog (Scaphiophryne brevis); Dueril's bright-eyed frog (Boophis tephraeomystax); Goudot's bright-eyed frog (Boophis goudotii); Madagascar bullfrog (Boophis tephraeomystax); and Mocquard's rainfrog (Scaphiophryne calcarata).
- Lowry, P.P. II, G. E. Schatz, and P.B. Phillipson. 1997. The classification of natural and anthropogenic vegetation in Madagascar. pp. 93-123 in: S.M. Goodman and B. D. Patterson (eds.). Natural change and human impact in Madagascar. Smithsonian Institution. Press, Washington, D.C. ISBN: 1560986832
- World Wildlife Fund and C.MIchael Hogan. 2015. Madagascar succulent woodlands. Encyclopedia of Earth. National Council for Science and Environment. Washington DC
Madagascar Spiny Thickets Habitat
Lemur catta is an Endangered taxon near-endemic to the Madagascar spiny thickets ecoregion. While the island of Madagascar is notable for exceptional levels of endemic plants and animals, the spiny thicket is particularly distinctive with 95 percent of the plant species endemic to the ecoregion. Members of the endemic Didiereaceae family present dominate the thicket, which have similar xeric adaptations to New World cacti, such as small leaves and spines, but with the Madagascar spiny thickets displaying more woody rather than succulent characteristics.
There are two major rock types in the ecoregion; the Tertiary limestone of the Mahafaly Plateau and the unconsolidated red sands of the central south and southeast. This geology corresponds to a major division in the habitat. The taller, dense dry forest on the sandy soils is dominated by Didieria madagascariensis, and the more xeric adapted vegetation on the calcareous plateau around Lake Tsimanampetsotsa is characterized by dwarf species.
The fauna of the ecoregion is also distinctive and includes three strictly endemic mammals, the White-footed sportive lemur (Lepilemur leucopus), Grandidier’s mongoose (Galidictis grandidieri) and Microcebus griseorufus. Near-endemic mammals include the Large-eared tenrec (Geogale aurita), and the Lesser hedgehog tenrec (Echinops telfairi). Six other lemurs are found only in spiny thicket and the adjacent Succulent Woodlands ecoregion, Red-tailed sportive lemur (Lepilemur ruficaudatus), Verreaux's sifaka (Propithecus verreauxi), the Ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta), Forked-marked lemur (Phaner furcifer), Fat-tailed dwarf lemur (Cheirogaleus medius), and Gray mouse lemur (Microcebus murinus). The mongoose species is considered endangered on the current IUCN Red Data List, and Verreaux’s sifaka and the Ring-tailed lemur are classified as Vulnerable. Some mammals have highly restricted ranges within the ecoregion. Grandidier’s mongoose (Galidictis grandidieri) was described as recently as 1986 and has a restricted range around Lake Tsimanampetsotsa. Subfossils have been identified from a cave near Itampolo, south of Lake Tsimanampetsotsa.
Species of reptiles endemic to the ecoregion include the chameleons Furcifer belalandaensis and F. antimena. Further, the Madagascan spider tortoise (Pyxis arachnoides), and the Radiated tortoise (Geochelone radiata) are found in this ecoregion and the zone to the north, the succulent woodlands. The Madagascar ground boa (Acrantophis dumerilii) is found in this ecoregion, although not exclusively. Many more species are endemic to the ecoregion including the rock dwelling iguanids Oplurus saxicola and O. fihereniensis, the Day gecko (Phelsuma breviceps), nocturnal geckos Ebenavia maintimainty and Matoatoa brevipes, and the snake Liophidium chabaudi.
There are a number of amphibian taxa present within the ecoregion, the totality of which are: Ansouhy tomato frog (Dyscophus insularis); Betsileo Madagascar frog (Mantidactylus betsileanus); Brown rainfrog (Scaphiophryne brevis); Dumeril's bright-eyed frog (Boophis tephraeomystax); Madagascar bullfrog (Laliostoma labrosum); Mascarene grassland frog (Ptychadena mascareniensis); the Endangered Blue-legged mantella (Mantella expectata); and the Goudot's bright-eyed frog (Boophis goudotii).
There are eight bird species endemic to the ecoregion and an additional two bird taxa that live only on the western drier side of the island. Endemic species include Verreaux's coua (Coua verreauxi), running coua (Coua cursor), Lafresnaye’s vanga (Xenopirostris xenopirostris), red-shouldered vanga (Calicalicus rufocarpalis), Archibold’s newtonia (Newtonia archiboldi), and littoral rock-thrush (Monticola imerinus). Some of these endemics are quite restricted in their geographical range. For example, two endemic species are known only from a narrow coastal strip on the northwest edge of the ecoregion. They are subdesert mesite (Monias benschi) and long-tailed ground roller (Uratelornis chimaera). Each of these species belong to monospecific genera and are representatives of two of the five families endemic to Madagascar. Another, the recently described red-shouldered vanga, is known only from the Toliara region. The Madagascar plover (Charadrius thoracicus) is near-endemic to this ecoregion, but is also found along the west coast into the Succulent Woodlands and the Dry Deciduous Forest ecoregions, while the Thamnornis warbler (Thamnornis chloropetoides) extends only slightly outside this ecoregion into the Succulent Woodlands ecoregion.
The Red-shouldered vanga and Long-tailed ground roller are recorded as Vulnerable species on the recent IUCN Red List of Threatened species.
- Ganzhorn, J.U., B. Rakotosamimanana, L. Hannah, J. Hough, L. Iyer, S. Olivieri, S. Rajaobelina, C. Rodstrom, G. Tilkin. 1997. Priorities for biodiversity conservation in Madagascar. Primate Report 48-1, Germany.
- World Wildlife Fund and C.MIchael Hogan. 2015. Madagascar spiny thickets. Encyclopedia of Earth. National Council for Science and Environment. Washington DC
Habitat and Ecology
This species has one of the lowest resting metabolic rates recorded for any mammalian species. Indeed, in areas where their habitat has been logged these animals will frequently die simply because they lack the dietary energy necessary to move to more distant trees. The animals reduce their nightly travel distances in the cold dry season (Mittermeier et al. 2013).
Home range sizes are at or below one hectare, and do not differ between males and females. Adults are organized into pairs, but they rarely interact and spend very little time in close proximity to each other. Home ranges of the pair partners coincide, with little overlap with the home ranges of neighbouring pairs. The animals spend the day in tree holes and can often be seen sunbathing at the entrance. Nightly travel distances are 1001,000 m (Mittermeier et al. 2013).
Life History and Behavior
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- Data Deficient (DD)
- 2000Lower Risk/near threatened (LR/nt)
- 1996Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
- 1994Rare (R)
- 1990Rare (R)
- 1990Rare (R)
- 1988Insufficiently Known (K)
- 1986Insufficiently Known (K)
- 1965Status inadequately known-survey required or data sought
Red-tailed sportive lemur
The red-tailed sportive lemur (Lepilemur ruficaudatus), or red-tailed weasel lemur, is native to Madagascar like all lemurs. It is a nocturnal species feeding largely on leaves, though they also eat some fruit. Individuals weigh around 800 grams, and there is little sexual dimorphism. In general they live in mated pairs, with a home range of about 10,000 square metres. Both members of the pair use the same home range, and there is little overlap between the home ranges of neighbouring pairs. Travel distances each night are between 100 metres and 1 km, making this a relatively inactive species. This species can be found in the Madagascar dry deciduous forests.
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- Andriaholinirina, N. et al. (2014). "Lepilemur ruficaudatus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.1. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 2014-06-17.
- "Checklist of CITES Species". CITES. UNEP-WCMC. Retrieved 18 March 2015.
- Groves, C. P. (2005). Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M, eds. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 119. OCLC 62265494. ISBN 0-801-88221-4.
- Ganzhorn, J. U., Pietsch, T., Fietz, J., Gross, S., Schmid, J., & Steiner, N. (2004). Selection of food and ranging behaviour in a sexually monomorphic folivorous lemur: Lepilemur ruficaudatus. Journal of Zoology, 263, 393–399
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