Effects of anthropogenic disturbance on indri (Indri indri) health in Madagascar

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Abstract

Anthropogenic habitat disturbance impairs ecosystem health by fragmenting forested areas, introducing environmental contamination, and reducing the quality of habitat resources. The effect of this disturbance on wildlife health is of particular concern in Madagascar, one of the world's biodiversity hotspots, where anthropogenic pressures on the environment remain high. Despite the conservation importance of threatened lemur populations in Madagascar, few data exist on the effects of anthropogenic disturbance on lemur health. To examine these impacts, indri (Indri indri) populations were evaluated from two forest reserves that differ in their exposure to anthropogenic disturbance. We compared the health status of 36 indri individuals from two sites: one population from a protected, undisturbed area of lowland evergreen humid forest and the other population from a reserve exposed to frequent tourism and forest degradation. Comparison of indri health parameters between sites suggests an impact of anthropogenic disturbance, including significant differences in leukocyte count and differential, 12 serum parameters, 6 trace minerals, and a higher diversity of parasites, with a significant difference in the presence of the louse, Trichophilopterus babakotophilus. These data suggest that indri living in disturbed forests may experience physiological changes and increased susceptibility to parasitism, which may ultimately impair reproductive success and survival. Am. J. Primatol. 73:632–642, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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