Science Diary: Lemurs of Madagascar – Leaping Lemurs!

Ambience: Brown Lemurs jumping in trees

“And so it’s just this beautiful, graceful kind of leaping from tree to tree”

Leaping Lemurs! But what happens when the tree you’re leaping from is gone? Welcome to Pulse of the Planet’s Science Diaries – a glimpse of the world of science from the inside. Earthwatch scientist Summer Arrigo-Nelson, studies the Sifaka lemur, one of the tree dwelling primates of Madagascar. She says logging practices pose a particular threat to this species.

“The locomotor pattern of Sifakas is called vertical clinging and leaping. And what that means is that when Sifakas are moving from one tree to another, they will hold on to a tree in a vertical position with their head towards the crown of the tree and their rear end towards the ground. And then what they do is they push off, first with their front legs and then with their back legs, and almost like a cat would do, they spin around in mid-air. And so as they twist they orient their hands and their feet to vertically land on the next tree trunk that they want to grab onto. And so it’s just this beautiful, graceful kind of leaping from tree to tree. However, that does introduce some problems because when you have selective logging, selective logging changes the distance between trees within the forest. Because they know where their resources are, and they sort of have highways that they use, where they know where the trees that they’re going to are, and they know the quickest route to get there and they’re just gonna follow that route. And so if the trees are too far apart, that means that the pathways for travel for the Sifaka are going to be interrupted.”

Even small disruptions to these tree highways can have big consequences for the Lemur. Gaps in the forest left by selective logging can make a path impassible and fragment the already dwindling lemur populations. Pulse of the Planet’s Science Diaries are made possible by the National Science Foundation.

Science Diary: Lemurs of Madagascar - Leaping Lemurs!

What happens when there's a gap in the "treetop highway" of Madagascar's rainforest?
Air Date:03/19/2007
Scientist:
Transcript:

Ambience: Brown Lemurs jumping in trees

“And so it's just this beautiful, graceful kind of leaping from tree to tree”

Leaping Lemurs! But what happens when the tree you’re leaping from is gone? Welcome to Pulse of the Planet’s Science Diaries - a glimpse of the world of science from the inside. Earthwatch scientist Summer Arrigo-Nelson, studies the Sifaka lemur, one of the tree dwelling primates of Madagascar. She says logging practices pose a particular threat to this species.

“The locomotor pattern of Sifakas is called vertical clinging and leaping. And what that means is that when Sifakas are moving from one tree to another, they will hold on to a tree in a vertical position with their head towards the crown of the tree and their rear end towards the ground. And then what they do is they push off, first with their front legs and then with their back legs, and almost like a cat would do, they spin around in mid-air. And so as they twist they orient their hands and their feet to vertically land on the next tree trunk that they want to grab onto. And so it's just this beautiful, graceful kind of leaping from tree to tree. However, that does introduce some problems because when you have selective logging, selective logging changes the distance between trees within the forest. Because they know where their resources are, and they sort of have highways that they use, where they know where the trees that they're going to are, and they know the quickest route to get there and they're just gonna follow that route. And so if the trees are too far apart, that means that the pathways for travel for the Sifaka are going to be interrupted.”

Even small disruptions to these tree highways can have big consequences for the Lemur. Gaps in the forest left by selective logging can make a path impassible and fragment the already dwindling lemur populations. Pulse of the Planet’s Science Diaries are made possible by the National Science Foundation.