Date of Award

2021

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biological and Environmental Sciences (MSBES)

Specialization

Ecology & Ecosystem Sciences (EES)

First Advisor

Brian D. Gerber

Abstract

Biodiversity is increasingly threatened by anthropogenic disturbance globally. Information on the status of species and their response to changing environments is required to determine mitigation strategies before range contractions, population declines, or extinctions occur. Madagascar is a renowned biodiversity hotspot, comprising some of the highest levels of floral and faunal endemism in the world. Madagascar is also home to the most understudied family of carnivorans in the world, Eupleridae. Eupleridae is comprised of eight unique species that we currently lack fundamental knowledge about yet are of high conservation concern. Madagascar has experienced intense landscape changes from human expansion and resource extraction, especially within forested eco-regions where Eupleridae species primarily range. Conservation actions are thus hindered by a lack of clear information regarding species ecology and empirical studies evaluating species responses to on-going pressures from anthropogenic activities. Here, I examine the relative influence of intensifying landscape change and invasive carnivorans on Eupleridae through:

1) A literature review to synthesizes current information on Eupleridae life history, functional-traits, and empirical evidence of the influences of anthropogenic pressures. In addition, this review aims to help identify knowledge gaps and specify future research needs. Presented here as Manuscript 1.

2) An independent empirical study to examine the relative effects of two primary anthropogenic factors threatening carnivorans in Madagascar’s eastern rainforest, the creation of forest edge from landscape change and invasive predators. To date, targeted conservation actions for Madagascar carnivorans has been hindered by a failure to understand the relative contributions of these factors in driving species declines. Presented here as Manuscript 2.

Through this body of work, I aim to contribute pragmatic resources and empirical data on Eupleridae to guide current and future conservation practitioners.

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