Group Composition, Home Range Size, and Diet of Three Sympatric Bamboo Lemur Species (Genus Hapalemur) in Ranomafana National Park, Madagascar
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- Tan, C.L. International Journal of Primatology (1999) 20: 547. doi:10.1023/A:1020390723639
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This is the first long-term, simultaneous, comparative study of three bamboo lemur species (Hapalemur griseus, H. aureus, and H. simus) at a site in southeastern-central Madagascar where they occur in sympatry. At Talatakely, Ranomafana National Park, the three Hapalemur spp. share overlapping home ranges. Hapalemur griseus has flexible group sizes, varying from three to nine individuals (n = 6). The home range of Hapalemur griseus averages 15 ha (n = 2). Hapalemur aureus forms family groups of ≤4 individuals (n = 3); they have a home range on average of 26 ha (n = 2). The single group of Hapalemur simus is composed of one or three adult males, two adult females, and their offspring; they occupy a home range of 62 ha. The three species of Hapalemur are year-round bamboo specialists: >88% of their diets consist of bamboo and grass in the Family Poaceae. Contrary to earlier findings, all three Hapalemur spp. consume the cynogenic parts—young leaf bases, young pseudopetioles, and young shoots—of the giant bamboo, Cathariostachys madagascariensis. They rely heavily on this plant, which comprises 72–95% of their diets. Hapalemur griseus and H. aureus consume similar proportions of bamboo vs. nonbamboo plants, though they differ in the species of bamboo they prefer. Hapalemur simus has the most distinct diet of the three bamboo lemurs. They exploit the young shoots of Cathariostachys madagascariensis during the austral summer rainy season, between November and April. From June to November, Hapalemur simus shifts its diet to eating the mature culm pith of Cathariostachys madagascariensis; the proportion of pith represented in their diet reaches a maximum of 89% in October. Seasonal availability of food resources, feeding competition, and factors related to body size may provide clues to the understanding of diet selection among the three sympatric Hapalemur spp.