, Volume 28, Issue 6, pp 1253-1266
Date: 27 Nov 2007

Diet, Nutritional Ecology, and Birth Season of Eulemur macaco in an Anthropogenic Forest in Madagascar

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We investigated the feeding ecology of Eulemur macaco macaco in an old coastal secondary forest of northwestern Madagascar. We analyzed whether the local combination of introduced and native plant species could provide viable anthropic conditions for sustaining the black lemurs. Fruits (79 spp.) dominated the annual diet (>104 species from 50 families via observations ad libitum and use of a feeding frequency methods). Records from the early dry (mating) and late dry (birth) seasons show that a few major fruit species are staples in conjunction with a variety of other plant items in much lower proportions. We further estimated daily food intake and analyzed nutrient/antinutrient content in the diet during the birth season to evaluate the possibility that black lemurs undergo nutritional stress. They exhibited a high-energy input/low energy output foraging strategy then and had limited use of alternative resources such as leaves throughout the study period. We conclude that the potential for feeding flexibility is low because specialization on fruit results in protein requirements being achieved probably by a narrow margin. We hypothesize that patchy distribution of preferred cash-crop plants and indigenous species currently has a major limiting effect on population size through feeding competition.