Week 12: Article Review II


I decided to do my second article review on an article I found while doing more research on my paper topic. I started my research by looking at a few publications from Anne Yoder, a woman with whom I worked for during the past two summers.

This article, “Effects of Anthropogenic Disturbance on Indri (Indri indri) Health in Madagascar” describes physiological changes that have occurred in various indri populations across eastern Madagascar due to human encroachment.

The paper begins by looking at the pressure that has been placed upon lemur populations – specifically the indri – because of “anthropogenic disturbance” such as deforestation and hunting (Junge et al, 2011). These problems and sources of stress upon populations mostly occur through habitat destruction  that alters the natural resources available to the local populations, fragmentation of species and overall degeneration of habitats from things like mining and agricultural purposes.

The authors of this article do a good job in giving their paper purpose early on, and make their aims very clear. The key purpose of this article was to look at varying health effects as a result of this human disturbance to determine the specific causes and effects to therefore understand the best ways to go about monitoring and sustaining those endangered populations.

The article looks at various determinants of health in the indri species and assess these health determinants in various ways. They first describe a few characteristics of the indri – they are diurnal and folivorous. They live at relatively low altitude rainforests along the eastern coast of the island. The indri is particularly susceptible to conservation problems due to their fragmented sub-populations; the researchers also describe the problems regarding a small captive population in the indri.

The study areas involved came from two different locations, both of which expressed different amounts of human disturbance in order to cross-compare the health effects of the indri. The first Betampona Strict Nature Reserve (BSNR) and the second Analamzazaotra Forest complex (AFC) and I dare you to try and say that word out loud. The paper reminded us that it is important to understand that the indri in both populations have a large amount of human contact with relatively close interactions and therefore have become highly habituated to humans.

While collecting samples, the paper noted, the process involved “collaboration between field biologists and veterinarians,” in order to fully understand the effects upon the populations. (Junge et. al, 2011). The sample collection was conducted through blood samples of free-ranging indri, and fecal samples from the rectum or from new fecal specimens. Fun. The article goes into a great deal of depth regarding the laboratory procedures and statistical analysis to determine whether or not there was a significant difference in data across many different health factors. The results showed the ranges expressed in different populations in respect to certain elements and qualities such as potassium, glucose, globulin, magnesium, etc…

The overall results showed that the indri who lived in habitats with more levels of destruction and disturbance exhibited more physiological changes than those who inhabited a more pristine forest. The discussion does an excellent job of presenting caveats – or alternate expectations to this difference. There could be a large amount of factors that contribute to physiological change seen in indri populations. It could perhaps be related to sun exposure in the indri and how they handle their vitamin D; or it could also be related to the various altitudes among different rainforest locations.

The article goes into a great deal of depth about what happens to indri health as a result of human encroachment. There are harmful effect on lemur biodiversity, including reduction in the “richness, abundance, distribution, genetic diversity, reproductive success,” and other effects upon the species. (Junge et. al, 2011). These effects are particularly evident in small populations, and also make the lemur populations more likely to be negatively affected by large scale environmental problems such as higher instances of parasite infections.

My favorite aspect of the paper was its call for change at the end of the discussion. The authors used the effects to present and problem as well as a means of changing it. According to the paper, we must engage in “long-term consistent monitoring of the effects of disturbance” to ensure that we can successfully maintain and preserve the species.

Overall, I particularly enjoyed reading this paper. The purposes and outcomes were very clear and easy to follow. It also had specific relevance to my paper topic and gave me good direction in moving forward with my research. However, it was a little above my understanding in many parts. I would love to have extensive biological and lab knowledge in order to better understand the health effects and how the authors concluded their statistical significance. I think this paper presents a wonderful jumping – off point for future research and conservation efforts in Madagascar. It certainly inspired me and I hope it inspires you!

Junge RE, Barrett MA, Yoder AD. 2011. Effects of Anthropogenic Disturbance on Indri (Indri indri) Health in Madagascar. Am J Primatol 73:1-11.



2 thoughts on “Week 12: Article Review II

  1. charlottegable

    Your paper and my paper are pretty similar, Alex! They both discussed habitat destruction and the effects it had on primates. In contrast to yours, however, mine dealt with Rhesus macaques who are very adaptable and have learned to live successfully in urban environments and from feeding on human food. I can definitely see how the destruction of habitat in Madagascar can have adverse physiological effects on lemurs, however. My article also mentioned how the local villagers felt about the macaques. Perhaps a paper that had some aspects of that would be helpful for your topic, as well?

  2. This article sounds like it offers great insight into a really unfortunate problem. Conservation of primate habitats is truly an unavoidable issue in the modern age. I find it very saddening that it is difficult to study an animal that isn’t being threatened in the wild due to humans. Obviously some animals will unavoidably go extinct, as seen in the history of the earth, but when these poor primates are unnaturally threatened it is just terrible.

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