INFRAGECO symposium on connectivity at the Association for Tropical  Biology and Conservation annual meeting in Madagascar

The INFRAGECO team was present at the annual ATBC (Association for Tropical  Biology and Conservation) meeting in Antananarivo, Madagascar. Ute Radespiel organised with the help of Guillaume Besnard and Lounes Chikhi a symposium entitled “The challenge of connectivity in a fragmented world – insights from Malagasy Forests”.

Co-organized by three and co-chaired by two of the PIs (UR and LC) the symposium was a great success with a room that was full with people standing to hear the presentations. The talks addressed questions related to fragmentation and connectivity in Madagascar, looking in different regions and addressing a wide range of geographical and temporal scales. More particular, there were studies conducted in the South, NW, N and NE of Madagascar. Some studies focused on movements and gene flow between local fragment, whereas others looked at regional and fragmented fragmented species distributions. The time scale ranged from fragmentation events less than a decade ago (recent deforestation) to population dynamics happening thousands if not tens of thousands of years ago when ancient climate change played a role in the contraction of humid forests in the north. Finally, some studies were about genetic and genomic data, whereas others looked at the correlation between species diversity and forest fragment size, and others again reported on simulations of spatial processes.

A great way to show the achievements of the INFRAGECO project but also of other colleagues working on similar issues in Madagascar, since three talks were given by colleagues not from the INFRAGECO team.

Lounès Chikhi, Ute Radespiel and Besnard Guillaume (photo @INFRAGECO)
Full room for Connectivity Symposium (photo @LounèsChikhi)
Jordi Salmona (Guillaume team) presenting (photo @LounèsChikhi)
Gabriele Sgarlata (Chikhi team) presenting (photo @LounèsChikhi)


“The challenge of connectivity in a fragmented world –insights from Malagasy Forests”

Ongoing destruction of natural habitats is leading to an ever-increasing habitat fragmentation worldwide and is particularly prominent on Madagascar. The biodiversity contained in the remaining fragments can be potentially threatened by a loss in patch connectivity, size reduction, increased anthropogenic disturbances, and by detrimental edge effects. The permeability of the surrounding matrix, on the other hand, depends on the type of matrix (e.g. grass or tree savannah, agriculture) and of the ability of organisms to make use of the matrix, which can vary largely between species. Such differences can be expected to translate into variable degrees of vulnerability in view of future anthropogenic interventions and are therefore of highest conservation relevance. This symposium will explore the effects of habitat fragmentation on connectivity and population structure of different organisms, such as small mammals, lemurs and plants. Different methods are employed to gain insights into these questions. These will comprise ecological modelling techniques as well as population genetics and genomics tools, including spatial simulations. The overarching conservation implications of the various findings will be derived and discussed during the session.

Principal organizer: Ute Radespiel, Institute of Zoology, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Germany
Co-organizers: Lounès Chikhi, Laboratoire Évolution & Diversité Biologique (Université de Toulouse Midi-Pyrénées, CNRS, France & Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, Portugal
Guillaume Besnard, Laboratoire Évolution & Diversité Biologique, Université de Toulouse Midi-Pyrénées, CNRS, France

From the program book:

1. B. Karina Montero (Animal Ecology & Conservation, Biocenter Grindel, University of Hamburg, Germany) – “Corridor effects on the genetic diversity of mouse lemurs in a fragmented landscape”
2. Malcolm Ramsay (Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto, Canada) – “Variable fragmentation responses in mouse lemurs and small mammals in northwestern Madagascar”
3. Jordi Salmona (CNRS, Laboratoire Evolution & Diversité Biologique”, Université Paul Sabatier, Toulouse, France) – “Covariation of genetic diversity in forest dwelling taxa facing habitat loss and fragmentation”
4. Gabriele Sgarlata (Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, Portugal) –  “Using spatial simulations to study the genetic consequences of habitat fragmentation”
5. Giuseppe Donati (Department of Social Sciences Oxford Brookes University, United Kingdom – “Testing the effectiveness of heterogeneous corridors in littoral forest fragments: what works for large lemurs and what does not”
6. Shawn Lehman (Dept. of Anthropology, Toronto University, Canada) – “A biogeographic model of minimum protected area requirements for primates in eastern Madagascar”

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