Lemur Social Systems and Their Ecological Basis

pp 135-152

Resource Competition in Wild Populations of Ringtailed Lemurs (Lemur Catta): Implications for Female Dominance

  • Michelle L. SautherAffiliated withDepartment of Anthropology, Washington University

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Stresses imposed on female lemurs by adapting their reproductive events to seasonal resource availability may be exacerbated by high pre- and post-natal maternal investment and by group living. Within such a context female dominance can be seen as a critical behavior, enabling females to coexist with more than one non-natal male within a highly seasonal environment. Females may tolerate year-round male membership as males provide low-cost sentinels for predator detection and defense. Furthermore, male membership may be a viable reproductive tactic for both females and males, especially because females mate first with group males. A combination of female choice of small males and ecological and reproductive constraints on male size may have led to the current system of female dominance in ringtailed lemurs.