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Data from: Structure of microhabitats used by Microcebus rufus across a heterogeneous landscape

Citation

Ramananjato, Veronarindra; Razafindratsima, Onja (2021), Data from: Structure of microhabitats used by Microcebus rufus across a heterogeneous landscape, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.2280gb5rs

Abstract

Microhabitat preference among primates, which provides them with the niche they need to survive, often conditions primate diversity, abundance, and coexistence. Vegetation alteration and recovery have built heterogeneous forest landscapes that may influence primates’ microhabitat preference. We compared the diversity and size of trees/shrubs and the presence of lianas in 132 sites where we captured the rufous mouse lemur (Microcebus rufus), with that of 240 sites where we did not capture this species, to investigate the aspects of microhabitat structure they prefer. We then examined how this structural preference varies across a heterogeneous landscape of forests with different disturbance levels. Overall, microhabitats used by M. rufus differed significantly from unused ones in densities of small size, understory, and midstory plants. Microcebus rufus frequented microhabitats with significantly denser small- and medium-size (DBH 2.5-10 cm) trees/shrubs without lianas in the primary forest and small-size plants (DBH 2.5-4.9 cm) with one liana in other forest types. Compared to the microhabitats they used in the primary forest, the microhabitats in other forest types had lower densities of trees/shrubs with lianas. Additionally, the secondary forests and forest fragments also had significantly lower DBH. Although this variation in microhabitat use may represent an opportunity for M. rufus to live in disturbed habitats, it may expose them to additional threats, affecting their long-term survival. These findings emphasize the need to examine potential changes in microhabitat use among primates living in anthropogenic landscapes, which could help optimize long-term conservation and management of threatened primate species in heterogeneous landscapes.

Methods

This dataset was collected from vegetation survey.

We established a 5 m x 5 m quadrat around each trap (540 quadrats in total) to survey vegetation structure across sampling sites. In each quadrat, we measured the diameter at breast height (DBH, ~1.30 m above ground) of all tree/shrub individuals with a height ≥ 0.5 m and visually estimated their height. We identified each individual using its vernacular name and referred to a local plant database and the literature for their corresponding scientific names. We recorded the number of lianas on each tree/shrub, if present, without identifying them. In each quadrat, we also visually estimated the percentage of the forest ground covered by all plants of < 0.5 m high to determine the cover of the herbaceous layer. Using these data, we describe the structure of microhabitats used and unused by M. rufus by calculating 13 metrics of diversity and vertical structures for each quadrat. “Used microhabitats” refer to locations where we captured M. rufus individuals, while “unused microhabitats” refer to locations where we did not capture M. rufus individuals. In addition to size classes and herbaceous layer, we included the densities of trees with lianas as structural variables because mouse lemurs may use them as an alternative to small-branched trees/shrubs.

Funding

Rufford Foundation, Award: 24419-1

Idea Wild