Madagascar is among the most diverse places on earth, with 100% of the
primates (lemurs), 99% of the amphibians, 95% of the reptiles, and almost 90% of the
plants found nowhere else in the world. It is also rich in exploitable resources. Precious
hardwoods like rosewood grow in the eastern rain forest. Deposits of sapphires, quartz,
nickel, graphite, and gold are available. Yet it is one of the poorest countries, ranked in
the lower 1/5 by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP 2009). Much of the
original forest cover has been converted to agriculture, pasture, or degraded forest as a
result of past non-renewable reliance on its natural resources.
The government of Madagascar, with substantial support and influence from the
international community, has developed a network of areas throughout the country
protecting the diverse ecosystems. This is the backdrop for the present study. My
dissertation research focuses on seed dispersal by the largest diurnal lemur in Masoala
National Park (MNP), the red-ruffed lemur (Varecia rubra), and the attitudes of the
local farmers in an effort to assess the sustainability of a forest restoration project in the
Ambatoladama forest corridor in MNP. Can the park rely on lemurs to restore natural
forest habitat? Do the farmers in the region understand and respect park regulations
well-enough to ensure long-term compliance and acceptance of forest protection and
In the first chapter, I report on the diet and activity budget of V. rubra during
two field seasons in 2006 and 2007. The behavior of seed dispersers greatly affects the seed shadow of forest species; for example, the distance traveled in a day, the habitats
lemurs travel through, the types of food eaten, and the amount of time resting can
influence the deposition sites of passed seeds.
The second chapter describes how V. rubra contribute to forest restoration
through their seed dispersal capabilities. I analyzed the seed dispersal quality and
quantity, including the spatial distribution, diversity, and germination success of passed
seeds within the Ambatoladama corridor.
Finally, the third chapter elaborates on the attitudes towards the park held by
subsistence farmers living in the Ambatoladama region at the time of the study. I was
interested in how people can help or hinder the future sustainability of MNP. However, between the completion of my field work and the present, Madagascar has undergone
dramatic changes in its government and thus environmental legislation. The militarybacked
coup in 2009 led to logging in the northeast and legalized the shipment of
unprocessed rosewood and palissandre logs. This has led to massive increases in
rosewood and palissandre cutting within the boundaries of MNP. I therefore analyzed
the interview data from 2007 in light of the current situation in MNP.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. May 2010. Major: Conservation Biology. Advisor: Clarence Lehman. 1 computer file (PDF); xv, 143 pages. Ill. (some col.)
Martinez, Barbara Therese.
Forest restoration in Masoala National Park, Madagascar: The contribution of the redruffed lemur (Varecia rubra) and the livelihoods of subsistence farmers at Ambatoladama..
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