, Volume 29, Issue 6, pp 1511-1533

Microhabitat Variation and Its Effects on Dietary Composition and Intragroup Feeding Interactions Between Adult Female Lemur catta During the Dry Season at Beza Mahafaly Special Reserve, Southwestern Madagascar

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Abstract

We compared diets and female feeding agonism in 2 groups of ring-tailed lemurs living in markedly diverse microhabitats in and near the Beza Mahafaly Reserve, Madagascar during mid-to-late gestation periods and height of the dry season to test predictions concerning differences in resource availability, preferred foods, female rank, and degree and frequency of feeding agonism in relation to usurpability and monopolization of food resources. Quadrat sampling in disturbed forest habitat revealed a greater number of plant species than in the gallery forest home range area, but females in both groups consumed nearly equal numbers of actual food plant species. Higher-ranking females in disturbed forest consumed human food scraps from the researchers camp significantly more often than low-ranking females did, while there was no rank effect for consumption of any food type between females in the gallery forest group. Higher rates of female feeding agonism in both groups occurred around usurpable fruit and leaves, as well as over monopolizable human food scraps in the disturbed forest group. There is no association between degree of agonism and food type in either group, and rate of feeding agonism is similar for both groups. The most highly contested food items came in large packages and were high in nutrients: beneficial foods for gestating females in the height of dry season in southwestern Madagascar.