International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 983-999

First online:

Geographic Variation in Populations of Microcebus murinus in Madagascar: Resource Seasonality or Bergmann's Rule?

  • Petra LahannAffiliated withDepartment of Animal Ecology and Conservation, Biozentrum Grindel, University of Hamburg Email author 
  • , Jutta SchmidAffiliated withDepartment of Experimental Ecology, University of Ulm
  • , Jörg U. GanzhornAffiliated withDepartment of Animal Ecology and Conservation, Biozentrum Grindel, University of Hamburg

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Gray mouse lemurs (Microcebus murinus) occur in western Madagascar from the evergreen littoral rain forests at the southern tip of the island to the seasonal dry deciduous forests of the west and northwest. The wide geographic distribution allows researchers to investigate whether ecogeographic variations reflect adaptations to ambient temperatures, as a proxy for constraints of thermoregulation, or to rainfall, as a proxy of food availability. We compared body mass, number of litters/yr, and longevity for 3 populations: 1 from the evergreen littoral rain forest of the south (Mandena: annual mean temperature 23°C, 1600 mm rain/yr), 1 from the dry deciduous forest of the west (Kirindy/CFPF: 25°C, 800 mm), and 1 from the dry deciduous forest of northwestern Madagascar (Ampijoroa: 27°C, 1200 mm). Body mass decreases with increasing ambient temperature from south to north (Mandena > Kirindy/CFPF > Ampijoroa). The number of litters/yr was highest in the littoral rain forest (2 or 3 litters/yr) and decreased with decreasing rainfall (Mandena > Ampijoroa > Kirindy/CFPF). Life expectancy is lowest in the littoral forest (13% recaptures of mouse lemurs between years) and high (ca. 30–40% recaptures between years) in the dry forests (Mandena < Kirindy/CFPF and Ampijoroa). We postulate that constraints of thermoregulation result in the latitudinal gradient of body mass. Reduced resource productivity or seasonality is reflected in differences in reproductive rates, which seemed to be traded off against longevity. Thus body mass, longevity, and reproductive parameters respond differently to ambient conditions.


body mass lemurs life history traits littoral rain forest Madagascar Microcebus murinus morphometry reproduction