Hibernation Patterns of Dwarf Lemurs in the High Altitude Forest of Eastern Madagascar

  • Marina B. Blanco
  • Laurie R. Godfrey
Part of the Developments in Primatology: Progress and Prospects book series (DIPR)


The dwarf lemurs of Madagascar (genus Cheirogaleus) are the only obligatory hibernators within the order Primates. Today, hibernation is used by dwarf lemur species in a variety of forest habitats, from dry deciduous, littoral to rainforest, although its expression varies within and between species. We collected data on Cheirogaleus sibreei and C. crossleyi, two eastern dwarf lemur species found at Tsinjoarivo, one of the last remaining high altitude rainforests of Madagascar. Although Crossley’s dwarf lemurs are also found in low altitude rainforests, Sibree’s dwarf lemurs appear to be high altitude specialists and are only known from Tsinjoarivo. On the basis of hibernation and other biological data collected at Tsinjoarivo for Sibree’s and Crossley’s dwarf lemurs as well as data culled from the literature on Crossley’s dwarf lemurs, fat-tailed dwarf lemurs (C. medius), and greater dwarf lemurs (C. major), we ask whether altitude affects hibernation patterns and other biological variables. We propose that hibernation evolved in the highlands of Madagascar in concurrence with severe climatic changes. Lower ambient daytime temperatures in high-altitude environments may have increased the selective premium on fattening efficiency, which may have served, in turn, as a precondition for the evolution of obligatory hibernation. Hibernation should be selectively advantageous for individuals living in cold environments, particularly if their favored resources exhibit seasonality.


Mouse Lemur Tree Hole Central Highland Gray Mouse Lemur Hibernation Period 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We kindly thank the following people for advice: Nina Jablonski, Chris Kirk, Elke Zimmermann. Thank you also to Mitch T. Irwin and Jean-Luc Raharison for providing climate data and facilitating research at Tsinjoarivo. We are indebted to our assistants in the field: Noel Rakotoniaina, Jules Rafalimanatsoa, Edmond and Nirina Razanadrakoto, Vololonirina Rahalinarivo, Hery Nirina Théophile Randriahaingo, and Nannye Hasinjara Randriamanantsaina at Tsinjoarivo as well as Victor Rasendrinirina and Jean-Claude Rakotonirina and personnel of the Center ValBio at Ranomafana. Research in Madagascar was facilitated by the Ministère de l’Environnement et des Forêts of the Malagasy government, the University of Antananarivo, the Institute for the Conservation of Tropical Environments (ICTE, Patricia C. Wright, Stony Brook University) and the Madagascar Institute pour la Conservation des Ecosystèmes Tropicaux (MICET), especially its director Benjamin Andriamihaja. This research was supported in part by funds from the Rufford Foundation, MMBF/CI Primate Action Fund, Primate Conservation Inc., Margot Marsh Biodiversity Foundation to MBB. Additional support for this project was obtained from NSF BCS-0721233 to P. C. Wright, LRG, and J. Jernvall. Finally, we would like to thank two anonymous reviewers for insightful comments. This is Duke Lemur Center publication #1239.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Duke Lemur CenterDurhamUSA
  2. 2.Department of Animal Ecology and ConservationUniversity of HamburgHamburgGermany
  3. 3.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of MassachusettsAmherstUSA

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