University of Aberdeen project Madagascar 1994

Matthew Wells

The team studied, in conjunction with a Malagasy scientist, the effects of agricultural encroachment into the Zahamena Reserve (the largest and perhaps most important of Madagascar's rainforest reserves) on small mammal communities, bat activity and vegetation dynamics in the area, in order to further scientific understanding of human environmental impact in Madagascar, where the high levels of endemism are known to result in specific plant/animal interactions. Forest regeneration following clearance for agriculture was studied, together with an integrated study of cultivated plots and primary forest. The distribution and abundance of Tenrecs and other small insectivorous mammals in relation to micro-habitat was studied, with the roost ecology of the Madagascar Flying Fox. A study of Fruit Bats as seed dispersers and their role in maintaining a forest fragment was also made.

Project update: 21/8/96. This team studied the effects of agricultural encroachment into the Zahamena Strict Nature Reserve, the largest and perhaps most important of Madagascar’s rainforest preserves. Surveys were carried out in the Moango valley in the north-east corner of Zahamena, and focused on small mammal, bat and vegetation communities to increase understanding of plant/animal interactions and investigate human impacts within the area. The work was carried out in collaboration with Conservation International who have a large project in the area (F. Lambert in litt. 1998), aimed at reducing pressure on forest remnants by changing agricultural practices. It is not clear whether the work was useful to CI (F. Lambert in litt. 1998).