Prioritizing area using genomic approach for a long term conservation of black lemurs population
Most threats on lemurs are connected to an increasing degree of habitat loss and fragmentation. Alarmingly, one in four lemur species is currently listed as either Endangered or Critically Endangered by the Red list. Madagascar is a large country and prioritizing conservation zones remains challenging both logistically and with regard to limited budgets. To approach this question, we have combined state-of-the-art lab-based and applied methods from the fields of conservation genetics and conservation biology. We have conducted a project in the Sambirano Region, northwestern Madagascar, and have identified lemur populations of high conservation value by next generation sequencing techniques on black lemurs or Eulemur macaco. The genetic tools provided sound estimates of the remaining genetic diversity, uniqueness, and populations’ connectivity. Theoretical models predict long-term population viability given a high genetic diversity, which in turn has helped defining part of its overall conservation value. Four populations of E. macaco around the Sambirano Region have been sampled and used for this genomic study. The results show the importance of Ampasindava Peninsula populations. Therefore, this area has been prioritized as a hotspot to develop a highly-focused community-based conservation strategy for sustainable use of natural resources, starting from an environmental education programme in public primary school. For the first phase, we have used locally-based information center to train teachers how to use a particularly scholar kit designed for Ampasindava called Ma Jôby. This tool aims to raise awareness on black lemur’s conservation and their natural habitat. Impact of the program was measured by analysing pupil’s perspectives before and after using the kit for few months.