Folivory in a Small-Bodied Lemur

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Abstract

Hapalemur griseus alaotrensisa relatively small-bodied (1240 ± 140 g, n = 58), folivorous lemur, was studied over a period of 15 months at Lac Alaotra. The study showed thatH. g. alaotrensishad an exclusively folivorous diet and mainly fed on leaves and stems of grasses and sedges. However, since folivorous diets are known to be poor sources of readily available energy and small-bodied animals generally have high metabolic requirementsH. g. alaotrensisis expected to have adaptations at several levels (morphological, physiological, behavioral) to resolve this conflict. The present study onH. g. alaotrensisshowed that dietary diversity was extremely low and food choice highly selective, but chemical composition of the food items yielded no evidence thatH. g. alaotrensisselected higher quality foods than larger folivores, nor was there evidence thatH. g. alaotrensisminimized energy expenditure at the behavioral or physiological level. This lack of behavioral or physiological adaptations to folivory imply that the digestive ability ofH. g. alaotrensismay be higher than predicted for an animal of its size.