Habitat corridor utilization by the gray mouse lemur, Microcebus murinus, in the littoral forest fragments of southeastern Madagascar
Habitat fragmentation has reached a dramatic level in Madagascar. As the size of many remaining forest fragments is unlikely to maintain viable animal populations in the long-term, connecting isolated subpopulations by creating corridors is important to support gene flow and the persistence of the endemic fauna, including lemurs. Since restoration with endemic trees is slow, exotic trees may represent a faster alternative to initiate habitats that can be used by animals. Here, we studied whether or not grey mouse lemurs, Microcebus murinus, use corridors composed of exotic and native trees of different age and composition to move between littoral forest fragments. For this, we trapped M. murinus in four forest fragments and mixed tree plantations between the fragments. One of the corridors was composed of a mixture of endemic and mature exotic Eucalyptus robusta trees. The second corridor consisted mainly of an old stand of exotic Melaleuca quinquenervia. The third corridor was composed of exotic Acacia mangium trees planted in 2009. During four years of study, only one male M.murinus used the Melaleuca corridor, while several M. murinus were caught in the Eucalyptus and the Acacia corridor in 2013. The density of the corridor under-story appeared to influence the number of individuals captured; the corridor with highest understory density was used most. The captures within the corridors illustrate that exotic trees allow movements of mouse lemurs within less than 5 years after plantation.