Diet and Behavior of Adult Propithecus verreauxi in Southern Madagascar During the Birth Season




Markham, Katherine

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The environment in which Propithecus verreauxi (common name: Verreaux’s sifaka) is found is highly seasonal, arid and frequently undergoes periods of drought. P. verreauxi compounds these challenges by giving birth during the dry season when resources are scarce. Considering lactation is the most energetically expensive reproductive stage, understanding how P. verreauxi females meet energetic requirements during periods of low resource availability is important. This study examines the behavior and diet of adult male and lactating female P. verreauxi to identify intersex differences. Continuous focal observations were completed at Berenty Private Reserve, Madagascar, over six weeks early in the birth season. The number of bites an individual consumed of an item was recorded along with the plant part and species. Intersex differences were largely nonexistent. Males and females did not differ significantly in regards to intake rate, the amount of total food consumed, and water intake. Females devoted a greater portion of time to feeding than did males but both sexes allocated similar amounts of time to resting. There were also no essential differences in amount of feeding time allocated to specific plant species and food types. Findings may suggest that P. verreauxi is a capital breeder, storing energy year-round.



diet, behavior, propithecus, Madagascar, ecology