, Volume 42, Issue 3, pp 207-220

Contest versus scramble competition for mates: The composition and spatial structure of a population of gray mouse lemurs (Microcebus murinus) in North-west Madagascar

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Abstract

The modes of intrasexual competition interacting in many dispersed societies of nocturnal solitary foragers are still poorly understood. In this study we investigate the spatial structure within a free-living population of gray mouse lemurs (Microcebus murinus) in order to test for the first time the predictions from two contrasting models of male intrasexual competition on the population level. The contest competition model predicts an uneven distribution of the sexes in a population nucleus with a female biased sex ratio in the center and a male biased sex ratio in the periphery. In contrast the scramble competition model predicts males and females being distributed evenly throughout their habitat with a constant sex ratio. Nine capture/recapture periods within three consecutive mating seasons revealed a continuous male biased sex ratio in the adult population with even trapping rates for the sexes. The male biased sex ratio could either be explained with postnatal female biased mortality or with a male biased natal sex ratio. This male biased sex ratio was apparent in all parts of the study site, indicating that the population was not subdivided into a female biased core and a male biased periphery. Furthermore, the majority of adult males have been captured at the same site as or in vicinity to females. Consequently, a large proportion of males had spatial access to females during the mating season. No signs of monopolization of females by certain dominant males could be detected. These data support the predictions from the scramble competition model and the concept of a promiscuous mating system for this species.