International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 27, Issue 2, pp 437–464 | Cite as

Male and Female Activity Patterns in Microcebus murinus During the Dry Season at Kirindy Forest, Western Madagascar

  • Emilienne Rasoazanabary

I investigated sexual differences in activity levels, and their adaptive significance in gray mouse lemurs, Microcebus murinus, during the dry season. I studied them between April and September, 1999, at Kirindy Forest, a dry deciduous forest in western Madagascar. Six males and 6 females were radiocollared and followed using focal individual sampling. The males remained active throughout the dry season, whereas the females hibernated for up to 3 mo. Males exhibited a gradual decrease in activity from May to June and some of them remained inactive for periods of a few days to 1 wk. Males were more active in July. Though there were changes in the duration of time spent sleeping, there was no significant change in male body mass throughout the period. Males appear to prefer to rest in nests that are close to or coincident with those preferred by females, and multiple males may simultaneously share nests with multiple hibernating females. Males occupying nests that are close to or coincident with nests preferred by females tend to switch nests less frequently than others do. Researchers have suggested that high levels of activity prepare males for the mating season, which occurs at the end of the dry season. Presumably, by maintaining an active lifestyle throughout the dry season, certain males may position themselves to monopolize the best tree holes during the mating season. The reproductive advantages gained by this behavior may overshadow the costs of remaining active during the dry season when resources are scarce, temperatures are low, and predator pressure is high. Measurements on captured males confirm a weak (nonsignificant) positive correlation between body mass and activity levels. There is no indication that the heavier, more active males were better able to monopolize the best tree holes.

Key words:

activity levels dry season kirindy forest Microcebus murinus nests seasonal torpor sex differences 



I conducted the study under an accord between the Laboratoire de Primatologie et Biologie Evolutive d’Université d’Antananarivo and the Deutsches Primatenzentrum (DPZ). The DPZ provided funding for the field research. I am grateful to the staff of the Centre de Formation Professionnelle Forestière Morondava for maintaining the Kirindy research station, at which I conducted the study. I am grateful to Dr. Peter Kappeler, and, particularly, Manfred Eberle, for assistance in the field, as well as the late Dr. Berthe Rakotosamimanana, Director of the Laboratoire de Primatologie et de Biologie Evolutive in 1999, for facilitating this research. I thank Drs. Gisèle Randria, Rodin Rasoloarison, and Lalao Spiral (Université d’Antananarivo), as well as Laurie Godfrey and Michael Sutherland (University of Massachusetts, Amherst) for their advice and help with the execution of this article. I wrote this article at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, under the support of a Wenner-Gren Professional Development Fellowship.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of Massachusetts at Amherst AmherstMassachusettsUSA

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