Implications of lemuriform extinctions for the Malagasy flora

TitleImplications of lemuriform extinctions for the Malagasy flora
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsFederman S, Dornburg A, Daly DC, Downie A, Perry GH, Yoder AD, Sargis EJ, Richard AF, Donoghue MJ, Baden AL
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Date Published2016 Apr 11
ISSN1091-6490
Abstract

Madagascar’s lemurs display a diverse array of feeding strategies with complex relationships to seed dispersal mechanisms in Malagasy plants. Although these relationships have been explored previously on a case-by-case basis, we present here the first comprehensive analysis of lemuriform feeding, to our knowledge, and its hypothesized effects on seed dispersal and the long-term survival of Malagasy plant lineages. We used a molecular phylogenetic framework to examine the mode and tempo of diet evolution, and to quantify the associated morphological space occupied by Madagascar’s lemurs, both extinct and extant. Using statistical models and morphometric analyses, we demonstrate that the extinction of large-bodied lemurs resulted in a significant reduction in functional morphological space associated with seed dispersal ability. These reductions carry potentially far-reaching consequences for Malagasy ecosystems, and we highlight large-seeded Malagasy plants that appear to be without extant animal dispersers. We also identify living lemurs that are endangered yet occupy unique and essential dispersal niches defined by our morphometric analyses.

DOI10.1073/pnas.1523825113
Alternate JournalProc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A.
PubMed ID27071108
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