Animal Info - Diademed Sifaka

(Other Names: Ankomba Joby, Diademsifaka, Indris Sifaca, Propithèque à Diadème, Radjako, Sifaka Diademado, Simpona, Simpony)

Propithecus diadema

Status: Endangered


Contents

1. Profile (Picture)
2. Tidbits
3. Status and Trends (IUCN Status, Countries Where Currently Found, Taxonomy, Population Estimates, History of Distribution, Threats and Reasons for Decline)
4. Data on Biology and Ecology (Size and Weight, Habitat, Age to Maturity, Gestation Period, Birth Season, Birth Rate, Early Development, Dispersal, Maximum Age, Diet, Behavior, Social Organization, Age and Gender Distribution, Mortality and Survival, Density and Range, Minimum Viable Population)
5. References


Profile

Pictures: Diademed Sifaka #1 (27 Kb JPEG) (Duke Univ. Prim. Ctr.); Diademed Sifaka #2 (silky sifaka) (6 Kb JPEG) (Kids Ecol. Corps); Diademed Sifaka #3 (Perrier's sifaka) (7 Kb JPEG) (Kids Ecol. Corps); Diademed Sifaka #4 (Perrier's sifaka) (36 Kb JPEG) (Prim. Cons., Inc.); Diademed Sifaka #5 (Milne-Edwards' sifaka) (12 Kb JPEG) (Williams 2001)

The diademed sifaka is a large lemur with a lustrous, moderately long and silky coat. There are 4 subspecies of the diademed sifaka, and the coloration is different for each one. The head and body length of the diademed sifaka is 42 - 55 cm (17 - 22") and it weighs 5 - 7.3 kg (11 - 16 lb). For the most part, the diademed sifaka inhabits primary and montane rain forest, although the Perrier's sifaka subspecies is also found in dry-deciduous forest. The predominant food sources for the diademed sifaka are leaves or seeds, although fruit, young shoots and flowers may also be eaten in season. Diets vary somewhat among the 4 subspecies.

The diademed sifaka is diurnal and mostly arboreal. Feeding takes place at all levels of the canopy. Individuals may alight on the ground to search for fallen fruit and to engage in play-fighting. Sifakas, as well as indri and woolly lemurs, have body plans that support a highly specialized mode of locomotion: vertical-clinging-and-leaping. Powerful legs, about 1/3 longer than their arms, propel them between trees while allowing them to keep an upright body posture. The diademed sifaka occurs in multi-male, multi-female groups of between 3 and 9 individuals, who occupy large, exclusive territories that are depicted by scent-markings at the boundaries. Females are the dominant sex in the group. 

The diademed sifaka occurs along the eastern side of Madagascar from the Mananara River in the south almost to the northern tip of the island. The geographical ranges of the 4 subspecies do not overlap. Habitat destruction is the major cause of the decline of the diademed sifaka. Primary forests are being cleared and fragmented to make way for agriculture, for the extraction of timber and for charcoal production. Some subspecies may also be hunted for food in parts of their ranges. 


Tidbits

*** The majority of biological studies of this species have been carried out on one of the four subspecies of the diademed sifaka: Milne-Edwards' sifaka (P. d. edwardsi).  The results of these studies are thought to be broadly applicable to the other three subspecies. (Arkive 2004)

*** The diademed sifaka is vulnerable to hunting, since it is extremely curious and relatively unafraid of humans. (Britt et al. 1999)

*** During a survey, local people reported that it is "fady" (taboo) to hunt Perrier’s sifaka. However, elders informed the interviewers that this taboo is breaking down among younger hunters and is absent among newcomers to the area. (Mayor & Lehman 1999)


Status and Trends

IUCN Status:

Countries Where the Diademed Sifaka Is Currently Found:

2004: Occurs in Madagascar (IUCN 2004).

Taxonomy:

The diademed sifaka species is thought to include four subspecies (one of which has the same common name - "diademed sifaka" - as the species itself; to avoid confusion, this subspecies will always be referred to here as the "diademed sifaka subspecies"). Each of these subspecies is very different in coloration, and their geographic ranges do not overlap. These subspecies are listed below in the order of the location of their geographic ranges, from north to south:

- Perrier's sifaka (Propithecus diadema perrieri) - the smallest and rarest of the four subspecies; its coat is completely black.

- Silky sifaka (P. d. candidus) - its coat is uniformly creamy-white in color.

- Diademed sifaka subspecies (P. d. diadema) - the largest of the sifakas and most widely distributed subspecies of the diademed sifaka; its coat is white, gray and golden.

- Milne-Edwards’ sifaka (P. d. edwardsi) - its coat is mostly black/dark brown with a large white patch on its lower back, that extends to its sides like a saddle.

[Note: (at one time there was considered to be a fifth subspecies, P. d. holomelas, but these sifakas are now thought to belong to P. d. edwardsi)]

(Rowe 1996, Garbutt 1999, Williams 2001)

Population Estimates:

[Note: Figures given are for wild populations only.]

  • WORLD (Madagascar)
    • 1972: 500 (Perrier's sifaka (P. d. perrieri)) (Nowak & Paradiso 1983)
    • 1989: 2000 (Perrier's sifaka (P. d. perrieri)) (Mittermeier et al. 1994)
    • 1994: No population figures are available, but a reasonable order of magnitude estimate would be 100 - 1000 (Silky sifaka (P. d. candidus)) (Mittermeier et al. 1994)
    • 1994: No population figures are available, but a reasonable order of magnitude estimate would be 1000 - 10,000 (Diademed sifaka subspecies (P. d. diadema)) (Mittermeier et al. 1994)
    • 1994: No population figures are available, but a reasonable order of magnitude estimate would be 1000 - 10,000 (Milne-Edwards’ sifaka (P. d. edwardsi)) (Mittermeier et al. 1994)
    • 1998: Around 2000 individuals (Perrier's sifaka (P. d. perrieri)) (Arkive 2004)

History of Distribution:

The diademed sifaka occurs along the eastern side of Madagascar from the Mananara River in the south almost to the northern tip of the island. Details regarding the distributions of the four subspecies are listed below in the order of the location of their geographic ranges, from north to south:

Perrier's sifaka (P. d. perrieri) - Perrier’s sifaka has the most restricted geographic range of any of the diademed sifaka's subspecies and, in fact, one of the smallest distributions of any lemur. It occurs only in northeastern Madagascar in the area lying between the lokia River to the south and Irodo River to the north, centered around the Analamera and Andrafiamena Massifs.  (Garbutt 1999, Mayor & Lehman 1999)

Silky sifaka (P. d. candidus) - The silky sifaka is only found at the northern end of the eastern rain forest belt. Its geographic range extends from the Antainambalana River close to Maroantsetra in the south to the Marojejy Massif in the north, but it apparently does not extend eastward into the Masoala Peninsula. (Garbutt 1999)

Diademed sifaka subspecies (P. d. diadema) - The diademed sifaka subspecies is restricted to the rain forests of eastern and northeastern Madagascar. It is the most widely distributed of the P. diadema subspecies. Evidence suggests that its range extends from the Mangoro River in the south to the region south of the Antainambalana River in the north.  (Garbutt 1999)

Milne-Edwards’ sifaka (P. d. edwardsi) - Milne-Edwards’ sifaka is distributed from the Mangoro River in the north to the Mananara River in the south and includes the eastern slopes of the Andringitra Massif. (Garbutt 1999)

Distribution Map: Diademed sifaka subspecies (P. d. diadema) (14 Kb GIF) 

Threats and Reasons for Decline:

Habitat destruction is the major cause of the decline of the diademed sifaka. Primary forests are being cleared and fragmented to make way for agriculture, for the extraction of timber and for charcoal production. Some subspecies may also be hunted for food in parts of their ranges. (Garbutt 1999, Arkive 2004)

The diademed sifaka subspecies (P. d. diadema) appears now to be absent from many areas that have suffered only minor degradation, which suggests that it is particularly susceptible to disturbance (Garbutt 1999).


Data on Biology and Ecology

Size and Weight:

The head and body length of the diademed sifaka is 42 - 55 cm (17 - 22"); its tail is 41 - 51 cm (16 - 20") long; and it weighs 5 - 7.3 kg (11 - 16 lb).  Perrier's sifaka (P. d. perrieri) is the smallest subspecies and the diademed sifaka subspecies (P. d. diadema) is the largest.

Habitat:

The diademed sifaka primarily inhabits primary and montane rain forest, although Perrier's sifaka (P. d. perrieri) is also found in dry-deciduous forest (Arkive 2004).

  • Perrier's sifaka (P. d. perrieri) - Semi-humid and dry-deciduous forests. Unlike the other subspecies of the diademed sifaka, Perrier’s sifaka regularly comes down to the ground to cross large savanna areas between forest patches and to drink water from river beds. Towards the end of the dry season (November), groups of Perrier’s sifakas may move into bands of more humid forest that border dry river beds to eat fruit from introduced mango trees.  (Garbutt 1999, Mayor & Lehman 1999)
  • Silky sifaka (P. d. candidus) - The silky sifaka inhabits primary mid-altitude and montane rain forest at the northern end of the eastern rain forest belt. It has been observed at altitudes from 700 - 1500 m (2300 - 4900'). (Garbutt 1999, Kelley & Mayor 2002)
  • Diademed sifaka subspecies (P. d. diadema) - Primary mid-altitude rain forest. Elevations above 800 m (2600') are preferred. (Garbutt 1999)
  • Milne-Edwards’ sifaka (P. d. edwardsi) - Primary and secondary mid-altitude rain forest in the southern portion of the eastern rain forest belt. (Garbutt 1999)
The diademed sifaka lives in the Madagascar & Indian Ocean Islands Biodiversity Hotspot (Cons. Intl. 2005).

Age to Maturity:

Sexual maturity in the diademed sifaka is reached at 4 to 5 years of age (Arkive 2004).

Gestation Period:

Milne-Edwards’ sifaka (P. d. edwardsi) - a gestation period of 180 days (Garbutt 1999).

Birth Season:

Silky sifaka (P. d. candidus) - Infants are probably born around August (Garbutt 1999).

Milne-Edwards’ sifaka (P. d. edwardsi) -  mates between December - January and gives birth in the winter months (May - July), with the peak in June. In a given year, the birth season is about 6 - 7 weeks. Births and initial lactation occur when food is scarce, while weaning coincides with the rise in food availability. (Garbutt 1999, Williams 2001)

Birth Rate:

Milne-Edwards’ sifaka (P. d. edwardsi) - Females can give birth every year, but generally do so every other year. (Williams 2001)

Early Development:

Milne-Edwards’ sifaka (P. d. edwardsi) - The infant’s first month of life is spent holding onto the fur on its mother’s belly; then it transfers to ride on her back. Any member of the group may carry the infant. Weaning begins after 2 - 3 months. By the 4th month, the infant starts eating solid food; milk accounts for less than half its nourishment by the 6th month; by the 7th month, the infant travels independently 80% of the time; and after the 12th month, infants are not observed to suckle. Mothers continue to sleep with their offspring for up to 2 years. (Garbutt 1999, Williams 2001)

Dispersal:

Diademed sifaka subspecies (P. d. diadema) - Males immigrate into a group from a neighboring group and are unrelated, whereas females remain within their natal group and thus constitute a matriline. (Garbutt 1999)

Milne-Edwards’ sifaka (P. d. edwardsi) - A female may either remain in its natal group and begin breeding or move to an adjacent group at around 4 or 5 years of age. A newly matured male always moves out of its natal area at about 6 - 7 years of age to take up residence elsewhere. (Garbutt 1999, Williams 2001)

Maximum Age:

At least 25 years ((Williams 2001)).

Diet:

The predominant food sources for the diademed sifaka are leaves or seeds, although fruit, young shoots and flowers may also be eaten in season. Diets vary somewhat among the 4 subspecies:

  • Perrier's sifaka (P. d. perrieri) - The diet consists of mature leaves, unripe fruit, young shoots and flowers (Garbutt 1999).
  • Silky sifaka (P. d. candidus) - The silky sifaka has been observed eating leaves, fruit, seeds and flowers. (Kelley & Mayor 2002)
  • Diademed sifaka subspecies (P. d. diadema) - Its diet consists primarily of leaves, flowers and fruits, the respective proportions of which vary according to seasonal abundance. Over 25 different plant species are regularly utilized each day. (Garbutt 1999)
  • Milne-Edwards’ sifaka (P. d. edwardsi) - Two studies showed that either seeds or leaves were the most important constituents of the diet, with flowers and fruit also playing a major role (Williams 2001).

Behavior:

Diademed sifakas are diurnal and mostly arboreal. Feeding takes place at all levels of the canopy. Individuals may alight on the ground to search for fallen fruit and to engage in play-fighting. Indri, sifakas and woolly lemurs have body plans that support a highly specialized mode of locomotion: vertical-clinging-and-leaping. Powerful legs, about 1/3 longer than their arms, propel them between trees while allowing them to keep an upright body posture. On the ground, sifakas travel in an upright position on their hind legs, using a bounding or hopping motion. (Macdonald 2001, Arkive 2004)

  • Silky sifaka (P. d. candidus) - In one study, resting occupied the largest portion of the total group activity budget at 47 %, while feeding and traveling percentages were approximately equal at 25 % and 23 % respectively.  The remaining 5 % of daily activity was spent in intragroup social behavior. (Kelley & Mayor 2002)
  • Diademed sifaka subspecies (P. d. diadema) - Vocalizations are used to maintain group cohesion. Home ranges are defended primarily by scent-marking. The daily distance traveled within home ranges can be several hundred meters (about 1000').  (Garbutt 1999)
  • Milne-Edwards’ sifaka (P. d. edwardsi) - Within their home range the daily distances traveled are usually between 650 - 1250 m (2100 - 4100'). Sleep sites are normally associated with ridgetops, with these sifakas preferring branches 8 - 10 m (26 - 33') above the ground. (Garbutt 1999)

Social Organization:

The diademed sifaka occurs in multi-male, multi-female groups of between 3 and 9 individuals, who occupy large, exclusive territories that are depicted by scent-markings at the boundaries. Females are the dominant sex in the group. (Arkive 2004)

  • Perrier's sifaka (P. d. perrieri) - A group contains 2 - 6 individuals, including adult animals and one infant. When they are feeding, group members can be spread out in trees more than 50 m (160') apart, but individuals maintain contact with one another through regular quiet calls. (Garbutt 1999, Mayor & Lehman 1999)
  • Silky sifaka (P. d. candidus) - A group contains 3 - 7 individuals, with an average of 4.3 individuals per group (Mittermeier et al. 1994).
  • Diademed sifaka subspecies (P. d. diadema) - A group contains 2 - 5 individuals (Mittermeier et al. 1994).
  • Milne-Edwards’ sifaka (P. d. edwardsi) - A group contains 3 - 9 individuals, including 1 or 2 breeding males and 1 or 2 breeding females. Although the females may be related (mother - daughter), males are probably unrelated. Groups are relatively stable, and breeding pairs can remain together for 6 - 10 years. Groups defend their territories. These territories are relatively stable over the years, and appear to be independent of the group size. (Williams 2001)

Age and Gender Distribution:

Milne-Edwards’ sifaka (P. d. edwardsi) - The sex ratio at birth is approximately 1:1. (Williams 2001)

Mortality and Survival:

Milne-Edwards’ sifaka (P. d. edwardsi) - 43% of infants die in their first year. The greatest likelihood of infant mortality occurs around the time of weaning. 67% die before reaching reproductive age. Observed deaths of infants have been due to predation by the fossa (Cryptoprocta ferox) and infanticide by migrating males. Of 4 observed male migrants, 2 committed infanticide upon entering a new group. The resident male did not attempt to defend the infants. (Williams 2001)

Density and Range:

Density:

Estimates of densities of the different subspecies of the diademed sifaka range from about 1 - 20 individuals/sq km (2 - 50 individuals /sq mi):
  • Perrier's sifaka (P. d. perrieri): 3 - 4 individuals/sq km (8 - 10 individuals /sq mi) (Tattersall 1982); Analamera Special Reserve: around 20 individuals/sq km (50 individuals /sq mi) (Garbutt 1999)
  • Silky sifaka (P. d. candidus): Marojejy Massif: 8 - 10 individuals/sq km (20 - 26 individuals /sq mi) (Garbutt 1999)
  • Diademed sifaka subspecies (P. d. diadema): Betampona Natural Reserve: 0.9 - 1.3 individuals/sq km (2.3 - 3.4 individuals /sq mi) (Britt et al. 1999)
  • Milne-Edwards’ sifaka (P. d. edwardsi): Ranomafana National Park: around 8 individuals/sq km (20 individuals /sq mi) (Garbutt 1999)

Home range:

Estimates of the home ranges of the different subspecies of the diademed sifaka range from 30 - 250 hectares (75 - 630 acres):
  • Perrier's sifaka (P. d. perrieri): around 30 hectares (75 acres) (Garbutt 1999)
  • Diademed sifaka subspecies (P. d. diadema): up to 35 hectares (88 acres) (Garbutt 1999)); Betampona Natural Reserve: 100+ hectares (250+ acres) (Britt et al. 1999)
  • Milne-Edwards’ sifaka (P. d. edwardsi): 100 - 250 hectares (250 - 630 acres) (Garbutt 1999); Ranomafana National Park: about 70 hectares (180 acres) (Williams 2001)

Minimum Viable Population:

Minimum viable population density: 3 individuals/sq km (8 individuals/sq mi) (Silva & Downing 1994).


References

Arkive 2004, Britt et al. 1999, Burton & Pearson 1987, Cons. Intl. 2005, Duke Univ. Prim. Ctr., Garbutt 1999, IUCN 1966, IUCN 1994, IUCN 1996, IUCN 2000, IUCN 2003a, IUCN 2004, Kelley & Mayor 2002, Kids Ecol. Corps, Macdonald 1984, Macdonald 2001, Mayor & Lehman 1999, Mittermeier et al. 1994, Nowak & Paradiso 1983, Prim. Cons., Inc., Rowe 1996, Silva & Downing 1994, Tattersall 1982, Williams 2001


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