, Volume 39, Issue 4, pp 459-472

Effect of habitat structure on positional behavior and support use in three species of lemur

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This study compares locomotor and postural behavior and substrate use of three species of lemur, the diademed sifaka (Propithecus diadema edwardsi), the brown lemur (Eulemur fulvus rufus), and the red-bellied lemur (Eulemur rubriventer) at two different localities within Ranomafana National Park. The object of the study is to see if there are quantitative differences in the behavior of the lemurs or their choice of substrates in forests that have different structural attributes. Analysis of the physical characteristics of the habitat demonstrates that compared to the Talatakely area, the forest at Vatoharanana has a higher proportion of larger, taller trees. The behavior of the lemurs also differs in the two areas: all species leap less and climb and move quadrupedally more at Vatoharanana. All species use small size supports less frequently at Vatoharanana, choosing insted medium size supports (all three species) or tiny supports (Propithecus andE. fulvus) found in tree crowns and terminal branches. The lemurs prefer (i.e. use more often than would be expected based on abundance) large trees at both sites. At Vatoharanana however, they are more frequently observed higher in trees and in taller trees with greater trunk breadth.

The differences in locomotor behavior are in part due to the fact that at Vatoharanana, more bouts are collected during feeding and foraging than during travel. The relationship between this difference in activity pattern and the structural differerences in the two forests, however, is not clear. This study points out the need for longer term field studies of positional behavior and substrate use that incorporate the variety of forest types the subject species inhabit.