Lemur Research Program

Anthropogenic threats including rapid habitat loss and direct hunting are increasing extinction risks for wildlife worldwide. Large bodied animals with slow life histories and specialized dietary requirements are especially susceptible to population decline and extinction. Dr. Jody Weir’s research examines the behavioural ecology of endangered species with the goal of identifying existing and potential anthropogenic threats to their survival. Specifically, she is interested in feeding ontogeny and the behavioural, morphological and digestive processes that all mammals progress through from birth, when they are dependent on their mothers entirely, to independence. Inextricably linked, she is also interested in the types of feeding and infant care strategies employed by lactating females and how these compare between species, habitats and individuals. Her current research program compares feeding ontogeny of infants and maternal feeding and infant care strategies in the two largest extant lemurs: the indri (Indri indri) and diademed sifaka (Propithecus diadema). Attempts to keep either species in captivity have been unsuccessful and hence there are currently no breeding programs for either of these Critically Endangered species. This is thought to be largely a result of their highly specialized folivorous diets. Her research in Maromizaha forest is therefor valuable to conservation research and planning, including identifying habitat restoration and protection priorities and developing breeding programs for these species.

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