Behavioural strategies of the ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta) in a sub-desert spiny forest habitat at Berenty Reserve, Madagascar




Ellwanger, Nicholas

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In an effort to better understand primate behavioural flexibility and responses to low-biomass habitats, behavioural patterns of ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta) living in a xerophytic spiny forest habitat in southern Madagascar were examined. Behavioural data were collected over two months on two separate groups living in two distinctly different habitats: a sub-desert spiny forest and a riverine gallery forest. Data on the following behavioural categories integral to primate sociality were collected: time allocation, anti-predator vigilance, predator sensitive foraging, feeding competition, and affiliative behaviour. L. catta living in the spiny forest habitat differed significantly in many behavioural patterns when compared to L. catta living in the gallery forest. I suggest that the ability to successfully alter behavioural strategies to varying ecological conditions allows ring-tailed lemurs to occupy low biomass habitats which are uninhabitable to nearly all other primate species in Madagascar. Lemur catta evolution, behavioural flexibility, and conservation will be discussed.



ring-tailed lemur, behavioural flexibility, Madagascar, time allocation, feeding agonism, anti-predator behaviour, low-biomass habitat