Land use change
Habitat loss and fragmentation is the main cause of biodiversity loss. With the current population growth, the conversion of wildlife habitat into human-dominated landscape is one of the main drivers of wildlife population decreases. Java is the most populated island in the world, with a density of more than 1,000 habitants per km2. The research conducted by LFP investigates how lorises cope with land use change in a human-dominated landscape through behavioural observations, vegetation surveys and spatial analysis.
Climate change is induced by human activity and has received a lot of attention recently due to its tremendous impact on natural ecosystems and the threat it represents for millions of people. The precise impact it will have on wildlife is a main source of concern. LFP is currently studying the potential impact of climate change on Javan slow lorises’ behaviour and physiology by relating biotic variables such as activity patterns to abiotic variables such as temperature and precipitation.
Understanding slow loris diets in the wild is necessary to identify their habitat requirements. But it is also mandatory for improving the welfare of slow lorises in captivity. LFP is investigating slow lorise diets through behavioural observations in the wild and laboratory analyses. LFP also conducts non-invasive experiments on captive slow lorises with its partner organisation the Cikananga Wildlife Rescue Centre. This will help provide better guidelines on how to care for captive slow lorises coming into captivity from the illegal wildlife trade.
Slow lorises are one of the few venomous mammals (other examples include the platypus). They have specialised brachial glands that produce an oil which once mixed with their saliva creates a venomous substance. LFP is studying the function of this venom through experiments on captive slow lorises, as well as the chemical characteristics of this venom through laboratory analysis on samples.
Torpor is a physiological state observed in numerous species. It involves a severe decrease of physiological activities and has recently been described in slow lorises. LFP is investigating the mechanisms that trigger torpor in slow lorises through behavioural observations, body temperature and activity monitoring.
Habitat fragmentation has a strong impact on mammal community composition and species interactions. LFP is studying the small carnivore communities present in this highly fragmented landscape. This research is conducted through camera traps and sightings since 2012 and also forms the dataset for a PhD research project. Species such as banded linsang (Prionodon linsang), Malay civets (Viverra tangalunga) and common palm civets (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus) are regularly spotted in the area.
Tropical areas are not only rich in mammal species but also sustain large communities of invertebrates. LFP is involved in a project investigating insect diversity and abundance in an agricultural landscape. This project also aims to relate insect abundance to slow loris habitat use through insect collection, vegetation surveys and behavioural observations of slow lorises.
Bioacoustics is a promising tool to assess biodiversity in a non-invasive manner but can also help unveil specific behaviours. As one of its most recent projects, the LFP team is deploying sound recorders to document slow loris vocalisations as well as other nocturnal species.