Responding to forest degradation: altered habitat use by Dian's tarsier Tarsius dianae in Sulawesi, Indonesia

Stefan Merker a1p1c1, Indra Yustian a2 and Michael Mühlenberg a1
a1 Centre for Nature Conservation (Dept.1), Georg-August University Göttingen, Von-Siebold-Str.2, 37075 Göttingen, Germany
a2 Department of Biology, University of Sriwijaya, Jl. Palembang-Prabumulih, km 32, Inderalaya, OKI, South Sumatra 30662, Indonesia

Article author query
merker s   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
yustian i   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
mühlenberg m   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


As most of the pristine forests of South-east Asia have been lost, the ability of its animal species to coexist with humans becomes increasingly important. Dian's tarsier Tarsius dianae, one of the smallest primates, lives in forests of central Sulawesi, Indonesia that are experiencing a dramatic increase in degradation by humans. To evaluate the effects of anthropogenic disturbance on tarsiers we used a comprehensive approach to estimate habitat suitability for these nocturnal insecthunters. On four study plots along a gradient of human land-use we determined population densities, home range sizes, nightly path lengths and group sizes of T. dianae. In total we captured 71 individuals and radio-tracked 30 of these. In more undisturbed sites, population densities were high and travel distances small. We found the smallest home ranges in slightly disturbed forest. In a heavily disturbed plantation densities were low, and ranges and nightly path lengths were large. These results show that undisturbed and slightly degraded forests are the most suitable tarsier habitats, and that focusing on different population parameters could lead to differing conclusions about the suitability of particular habitats.

(Received November 12 2003)
(Revised March 25 2004)
(Accepted July 2 2004)

Key Words: Density; Dian's tarsier; habitat suitability; home range; Indonesia; Lore Lindu National Park; primates; radio-tracking; Sulawesi; Tarsius dianae.

c1 Correspondence: Centre for Nature Conservation (Dept.1), Georg-August University Göttingen, Von-Siebold-Str.2, 37075 Göttingen, Germany. E-mail tarsius@gmx.net
p1 Current address: Institute of Anthropology, Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz, Colonel-Kleinmann-Weg 2 (SB II), 55099 Mainz, Germany