Food Resource Characteristics in Two Nocturnal Lemurs with Different Social Behavior: Avahi occidentalis and Lepilemur edwardsi
- Cite this article as:
- Thalmann, U. International Journal of Primatology (2001) 22: 287. doi:10.1023/A:1005627732561
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I present results from a comparative field study on the feeding behavior of the gregarious Avahi occidentalis and the solitary-but-social Lepilemur edwardsi to evaluate hypotheses relating to social organization and food resources. While Avahi and Lepilemur are both nocturnal, have comparable body weights and positional behaviors, and are both folivorous, they differ in their social organization. Therefore, they present an ideal model for assessing food resource characteristics through comparisons of food selection in both species with regard to forest composition. The monogamous Avahi tend to select under-represented resources. They are repeatedly exploited, which suggests that their location must be known. It is worthwhile and probably imperative to defend those resources. Such defense imposes ranging limitations on male Avahi. Females may prefer familiar mates that will share their knowledge of resource location and defend the resources. A stable monogamous pattern could be the optimal strategy. In contrast, food selection by Lepilemur is based on common resources to a higher degree, but they show a lower degree of exploitation. Lepilemur males would be less restricted and could potentially opt for a different strategy, e.g., a dispersed harem. It is unclear whether this strategy is realized or not. I discuss other possible correlates of monogamy—infanticide protection, predation avoidance—but the gregarious pattern in Avahi may best be seen as a retention, and its nocturnal activity as a secondary adaptation.