ESR 14:259-270 (2011)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00362

Variations in behavioural patterns between Lemur catta groups living in different forest types: implications for conservation

Nicholas Ellwanger1,*, Lisa Gould2

1Department of Anthropology, University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas 78249, USA
2Department of Anthropology, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia V8W 3P5, Canada

ABSTRACT: Implementing effective primate conservation strategies requires knowledge of species’ ecological and behavioural parameters. The protection of all habitat types required for preserving viable dispersion and gene flow between disparate populations necessitates a thorough understanding of the behavioural flexibility of a species. Ring-tailed lemurs Lemur catta inhabit a plethora of habitats throughout southern Madagascar but, hitherto, research has been restricted primarily to riverine gallery forests. The present study presents comparative data on the activity budgets and foraging behaviour of 2 L. catta groups living in different habitats at Berenty Reserve, Madagascar. Data were collected for 2 mo on groups living in a xerophytic spiny forest and a riverine gallery forest. The spiny forest group spent significantly more time in inactive behaviours compared with the gallery forest group. This strategy of apparent energy minimization allows L. catta to thermoregulate despite decreased water availability and high ambient temperatures. The spiny forest group spent significantly more time feeding on small fruits of succulent trees, which we associate with the group’s significantly higher rate of feeding agonism compared with the gallery forest group. These results demonstrate the high behavioural and ecological flexibility of L. catta, suggesting that xerophytic spiny forests might be a vital habitat type for L. catta conservation efforts. Future research should advance knowledge of the resources needed to sustain L. catta populations in other xerophytic spiny forests.


KEY WORDS: Lemur catta · Spiny forest · Gallery forest · Activity budget · Behavioural flexibility


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Cite this article as: Ellwanger N, Gould L (2011) Variations in behavioural patterns between Lemur catta groups living in different forest types: implications for conservation. Endang Species Res 14:259-270. https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00362

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