Madagascar Biodiversity & Biogeography Project

Nocturnal Species Research Project

The Aye aye, Daubentonia madagascariensis, is the most specialized of all lemurs, and possibly the most recognizable. From fused and ever-growing incisors designed to chew through bark to extract insects, to an extremely long and thin middle finger used to extract food from cavities, this lemur is unlike any other. Despite being such a biological marvel, little is know about the biology of this species. Our teams are working in four sites across Madagascar to determine basic ecology of this rare, and extremely interesting species.

Our primary research goals include determining territory size, social structure, diet and dispersal ability. Only after describing these facets of the aye-aye can we inform conservation action plans for this enigmatic species. Although well-known for centuries, the aye-aye’s reclusive lifestyle has limited our understanding and knowledge of its ecology, demography, and population genetics in natural populations. This nocturnal lemur also has the largest relative brain size of any lemur and typically leads a solitary life. Aye-aye’s also have the largest species range of any existing lemur. Four sites in Madagascar have been selected for conservation monitoring of the aye-aye: Kianjavato, Torotorofotsy, Anjiamangirana and Anjajavy. Because of the demand on the forests they call home, aye-ayes may be especially vulnerable to extinction due to deforestation.

The MBP and OHDZA are working with local guides to follow the habit of these elusive primates. Using radio collars placed on the Aye-aye, the MBP and OHDZA is collecting GPS data to estimate home range sizes. Animals are monitored by an MBP four person local team, collecting data to determine demography, habitat use and food resources.