You may remember lemurs from the popular movie series Madagascar, but they are much more than just fantastic dancers. Lemurs are a primate species that reside exclusively on the island of Madagascar. There are over 100 different species and subspecies that have different lifestyles and adaptations. Their only predator is the fossa, a small cat-like animal, however the biggest threat to their survival is human associated change. Activities like logging and mining in addition to poaching has led to declines in many populations and over half of the species are considered to be endangered or critically endangered.
This project is part of an ongoing collaboration between lemur specialists and industry to try and figure out ways to reduce the impact of human activities, specifically mining. As part of this effort several groups of lemurs are examined routinely to evaluate their health. Standard techniques are utilized which can show things like disease and organ dysfunction, but they do not appropriately reflect the role that chronic stress may play in the health of these lemurs. As with people, chronic stress can have significant negative impacts on lemur health. Finding new ways to measure chronic stress can help conservationists and researchers better understand the impact of human change and figure out how to mitigate the risks.
The goal of this project is to use a new means of measuring chronic stress, called allostatic load, to evaluate the health of lemurs around a mining site. These new measurements will help to monitor the health of the lemurs and provide a tool by which to measure the success of ongoing conservation measures.
Your generous donations will provide funding to travel to Madagascar to collect samples from lemurs to evaluate their health and apply this new potential conservation tool.