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LEEP- University of Arizona

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About the Laboratory for the Evolutionary Endocrinology of Primates (LEEP)

Adult male red-bellied lemur Atody with infant Ovy, showing off an example of allomaternal care. Photo by Pierre Lahitsara, as part of a face recognition project.

Adult male red-bellied lemur Atody with infant Ovy, showing off an example of allomaternal care. Photo by Pierre Lahitsara, as part of a face recognition project.

Our program generally focuses on primate research and conservation, with a focus on lemurs. We are concerned with how lemurs negotiate survival and reproduction in dynamic environments. The majority of our research is conducted with red-bellied lemurs (Eulemur rubriventer), but we are also involved in research with other species, such as the brown mouse lemur (Microcebus rufus), Milne-Edwards sifaka (Propithecus edwardsi), and Diademed sifaka (Propithecus diadema).

Most work is conducted in Ranomafana National Park in southeastern Madagascar, but we also do work at Kianjavato and Tsinjoarivo with our collaborators.

Engaging with the local community

We engage directly with community members in several ways. We hire local experts to help us conduct our research. We train students and locals without formal education in scientific principles and date collection.

We collaborate with researchers and Centre ValBio staff on grant proposals and research. And we communicate our research at all stages through disseminating publications, giving presentations to officials, tourism guides, faculty, and students, and co-mentoring students.

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University of Antananarivo

About the Mention Anthropobiologique et développement durable

The Mention Anthropobiologie et Développement Durable (ADD) houses the unique, primatology laboratory at the University of Madagascar which contains both lemuroid subfossils and holotypes of living lemurs.

ADD’s main objectives are to:

  • provide training programs about primates,
  • undertake research endeavors, and
  • promote conservation efforts.

The academics and technicians associated with this program partner with institutions at the national and international level including with non-profits, community associations, and government entities.

ADD is key to improving the abilities of Malagasy university students and helping them become leaders in the field of conservation. This is important as conservation does not just stop with protecting lemurs, but needs to encompass education, awareness raising, and helping local communities take ownership of — and actively engage with — conservation programming.

As a result of ADD, students and alumni now work in many different agencies and institutions within the country. Looking forward, ADD aims to continue working towards programming that supports and promotes the work of researchers and conservationists in Madagascar in a sustainable way.

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University of Torino, Italy

University of torino

University of Torino, Italy

About the Babako Team in the Department of Life Sciences and Systems Biology (DBIOS)

Starting in 2002, DBIOS promoted research projects on biodiversity and capacity building in Madagascar and Comoros, at the individual, institutional and social levels (see

Our projects center on increasing awareness of biodiversity and developing initiatives that empower communities to increase control over their lives and take a leading role in conservation of local biodiversity.

In terms of our academic research, we focus primarily on improving our understanding of primate phonation and vocal abilities. In these efforts, we focus on the vocal communications of indris (Indri indri) and other diurnal prosimians.

Working with the Community

Understanding that conservation must have the participation and support of local people to be effective, we have worked on increasing community involvement and awareness, general education outreach, and enhancing the capacity of local conservation managers and guides.

Since 2008 our activities have focused on the primary forest of Maromizaha or “rainforest of the Dragon trees” (150 km east of Antananarivo and 6.5 km from the Analamazaotra Reserve). This forest is now managed by GERP (Groupe d’Etude et de Recherche sur les Primates de Madagascar) and we aim to increase effective management of this area, by cultivating positive and sustainable societal attitudes towards wildlife in the local communities.

We undertake this work both by establishing small programs and by implementing capacity-building activities. For example — and in order to increase awareness and develop education outreach programs in communities close to the forest — a multi-purpose centre was built that is just 40 minutes walking distance from the major highway that links Antananarivo to Toamasina.


The project reflects a strong international partnership led by the DBIOS in collaboration with the Department of Arboriculture and Pomology, both at the University of Torino, Italy, the University of Antananarivo (ESSA), GERP, the University of Toamasina (Gestion des Ressources Naturelles et Environnement – GRENE), the University of Comoros, and the Zoological Society of San Diego.

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Oxford Brookes University


Oxford Brookes University

About the Nocturnal Primate Research Group

As part of the Lemur Conservation Action Plan, we are among the leading groups in charge of developing research and conservation in the recently established protected area of Tsitongambarika (south-east corner of Madagascar). This area, where no systematic research has been conducted so far, is considered one of the Action Plan priorities and one of the last large expanses of lowland rainforest left in Madagascar.

Since 1995, we have been studying the proximate and ultimate determinants of day-night activity (aka cathemeral activity) in true lemurs. This activity pattern is extremely rare among primates but common in lemurs, thus offering the unique opportunity to study the key transition between nocturnal and diurnal life during primate evolution.

The lemur species and field sites where we conducted our work on cathemeral activity are:

  • Eulemur collaris and Hapalemur meridionalis in the littoral forests of Mandena and Sainte Luce (Fort Dauphin);
  • Lemur catta and Eulemur hybrids in the gallery forest of Berenty (Fort Dauphin); and
  • Eulemur rufifrons in the dry forest of Kirindy (Morondava).

At the first two sites we have ongoing programs of research.

Studying How Lemurs Respond to Changes in Food Availability and Habitat

A second main stream of our research is focusing on lemur response to change in food availability and habitat disturbance. Since most forested areas in Madagascar have been modified by humans, understanding how lemurs respond to habitat disturbance and/or how they cope with new habitats is urgent. This response is investigated at various levels including thermoregulation, activity and ranging pattern, diet composition and nutritional ecology.

This work uses as a model the archipelago of fragments of the south-eastern littoral forest where the entire lemur community (Eulemur collarisHapalemur meridionalisAvahi meridionalis; Cheirogaleus sp.; Microcebus sp.) has been studied since 1999.

Members of our research groups have also studied the behavioural ecology of Allocebus trichotis and Mirza zaza in Andasibe and Sahamalaza, respectively.

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Northern Illinois University


Northern Illinois University

About Mitchell Irwin’s Work in Behavioral Ecology, Health and Conservation of Wild Primates

My research examines the ecology and behavior of lemurs in a range of habitat types (from highly disturbed fragments to relatively intact continuous forest) in Tsinjoarivo, eastern Madagascar.

One major focus of this research is improving our understanding of lemurs’ unique adaptations (compared to other primates), which might be linked to ecological conditions in Madagascar. The second major focus is examining lemurs’ range of habitat tolerances and their ecological and behavioral responses to habitat disturbance and fragmentation.

My main focus has been on the diademed sifaka (Propithecus diadema) but other aspects of my research have focused on the lemur community and my group is expanding to focus on bamboo lemurs (Hapalemur griseus) and brown lemurs (Eulemur fulvus).

Research Supported by Sadabe

My research complements and is facilitated by Sadabe, an organization working in Madagascar.

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German Primate Center


German Primate Center

About the Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology Unit

The Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology Unit has been operating a field station in Kirindy Forest/CNFEREF near Morondava since 1993. We are studying the behavior and ecology of 8 sympatric lemur species at Kirindy: Propithecus verreauxi, Eulemur rufifrons, Lepilemur ruficaudatus, Phaner pallescens, Cheirogaleus medius, Mirza coquereli, Microcebus murinus and Microcebus berthae.

We have been operating a field station in Kirindy Forest/CNFEREF near Morondava since 1993.

We are studying the behavior and ecology of 8 sympatric lemur species at Kirindy:

  • Propithecus verreauxi,
  • Eulemur rufifrons,
  • Lepilemur ruficaudatus,
  • Phaner pallescens,
  • Cheirogaleus medius,
  • Mirza coquereli,
  • Microcebus murinus, and
  • Microcebus berthae.
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Pennsylvania State University


About the Perry Lab at Penn State

The Perry lab studies lemur evolutionary ecology and the history of human-lemur interactions in Madagascar using genomic-based methods, including nuclear genome sequencing and analysis.

We also have an ancient DNA lab for sequencing the complete mitochondrial and even nuclear genomes of the recently extinct, giant ‘subfossil’ lemurs. These data are used to to reconstruct aspects of their behavioral ecology and to make conservation-minded comparisons to the surviving lemur species.

Finally, as a complement to our lemur work, we have initiated population genomic studies of the people of Madagascar in order to describe the pattern and rate of the population size increase and better characterize the interesting origin and evolutionary history of the Malagasy. Several of these projects are led by graduate students at the University of Antananarivo.

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University of Toronto


University of Toronto

About Tropical Research in Edge Effects (TREE)

The longitudinal research objective that my students and I pursue is to integrate evolutionary ecology and conservation biogeography to model primate responses to anthropogenic disturbances. The specific aim of our research program is to determine how forest loss, forest fragmentation, and forest edges influence the lemur ecology in Madagascar.

Most of our research is in the tropical dry forests in and around Ankarafantsika National Park in north-west Madagascar, where we study:

  • Propithecus coquereli,
  • Microcebus murinus,
  • Microcebus ravelobensis,
  • Eulemur fulvus fulvus, and
  • Eulemur mongoz.
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