Before the arrival

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Before the arrival

Post by wangrong on Sat Dec 25, 2010 1:28 am

Before the arrival of humans roughly 1500 to 2000 years ago, lemurs were found all across the island.[24] However, early settlers quickly converted the forests to rice paddies and grassland through slash-and-burn agriculture (known locally as tavy), restricting lemurs to approximately 10% of the island's area, ~60,000 km2 (23,000 sq mi).[30] Today, the diversity and complexity of lemur communities increases with floral diversity and precipitation and is highest in the rainforests of the east coast, where precipitation and floral diversity are also at their highest.[9] Despite their adaptations for weathering extreme adversity, habitat destruction and hunting have resulted in lemur populations declining sharply, and their diversity has diminished, with the recent extinction of at least 17 species in eight genera,[24][26][31] known collectively as the subfossil lemurs. Most of the approximately 100 species and subspecies of lemur are either threatened or endangered. Unless trends change, extinctions are likely to continue.[32]


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