Implications of lemuriform extinctions for the Malagasy flora

Sarah Federman, Alex Dornburg, Douglas C. Daly, Alexander Downie, George H. Perry, Anne E. Yoder, Eric J. Sargis, Alison F. Richard, Michael J. Donoghue, Andrea L. Baden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Madagascar's lemurs display a diverse array of feeding strategies with complex relationships to seed dispersalmechanisms inMalagasy 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5041-5046
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number18
StatePublished - May 3 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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