International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 6, Issue 5, pp 501–517 | Cite as

A comparative study of breeding seasonality and litter size in eleven taxa of captive lemurs (Lemur andVarecia)

  • D. Tab Rasmussen


Breeding records of 11 taxa of captive lemurs housed at the Duke University Primate Center (DUPC), North Carolina, were analyzed for differences in the timing of births, for the relationship between breeding season and photoperiod, and for differences in litter size. At DUPC there are significant differences in the timing of births among certain taxa, including differences among some subspecies of Lemur fulvus.However, changes in latitude result in changes in the timing of the breeding season. Lemurs moved to higher latitudes mate at lower light-dark ratios than on Madagascar. The data presented here are consistent with the following model: a photoperiodic cue initiating reproductive activity, presumably a light-dark threshold, precedes the actual mating season by approximately 2 months, with an intervening period of physiological and social preparation. On Madagascar, selection may have favored births that coincide with the end of dry seasons and the beginning of wet seasons, which results in lactation and weaning during times of resource abundance. Taxa from the north and east have the highest mean litter sizes; those from the west have the lowest.

Key words

Lemur Varecia breeding seasonality litter size photoperiod 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. Tab Rasmussen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyDuke UniversityDurham

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