Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 56, Issue 4, pp 393–403 | Cite as

Microgeographic heterogeneity in spatial distribution and mtDNA variability of gray mouse lemurs (Microcebus murinus, Primates: Cheirogaleidae)

  • T. FredstedEmail author
  • C. Pertoldi
  • J. M. Olesen
  • M. Eberle
  • P. M. Kappeler
Original Article


The objective of our study was to investigate the spatial distribution and genetic structure of a solitary primate at the microgeographical scale of adjacent local populations. We obtained spatial data and tissue samples for mtDNA analysis from 205 gray mouse lemurs (Microcebus murinus) captured along transects and within 3 grid systems within a 12.3 km2 area in Kirindy Forest, western Madagascar. Our capture data revealed that, even though the forest was continuous, gray mouse lemurs were not evenly distributed, and that daily and maximum dispersal distances were significantly greater in males. The frequency distribution of 22 mtDNA D-loop haplotypes was highly skewed. Nine haplotypes were unique to males, indicating male-mediated gene flow from surrounding areas. The geographic distribution of haplotypes revealed that males were also more dispersed than females. Females with the same haplotype showed a tendency towards spatial aggregation, and the correlation between genetic and geographic distances was higher in females. In several areas of the forest, however, spatially clustered females were not of the same haplotype, and females were not always found in clusters. Hence, in contrast to suggestions from previous studies, matrilineal clustering is not the only way females are socially organized. In addition, our study revealed heterogeneity and patterns in population structure that were not evident at smaller spatial scales, some of which may be relevant for designing conservation strategies.


Genetic structure Social organization mtDNA Dispersal Microcebus 



We thank Berthe Rakotosamimanana at the Département de Paléontologie et d’Anthropologie Biologique de l’Université d’Antananarivo, Albert Randrianjafy and Gilbert Rakotoarisoa of Parc Botanique et Zoologique de Tsimbazaza, Olga Ramilijaona and Daniel Rakondravony of the Département Biologie Animale de l’Université d’Antananarivo, the members of the CAFF and Commission Tripartite of the Direction des Eaux et Forêts, and the CFPF Morondava for their authorization and support of this study. We also thank Mikkel H. Schierup for comments on earlier versions of this paper.

This work was financed by the German Primate Center, a Biodiversity Fund from WWF in Denmark, the Thorkild & Thea Rosenvold’s Fund, a Knud Højgaard Grant, a General Student Grant from The University of Aarhus and a grant from the Faculty of Science, University of Aarhus, Denmark. T. Fredsted was supported by a PhD grant from the Faculty of Science of the University of Aarhus, Denmark. C. Pertoldi was supported by grants from the Danish Natural Sciences Research Council (21-01-0526 and 21-03-0125) and the Marie Curies Fellowship of the European Community Host Development program under contract number HPMD-CT-2000-00009).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. Fredsted
    • 1
    Email author
  • C. Pertoldi
    • 2
    • 3
  • J. M. Olesen
    • 1
  • M. Eberle
    • 4
    • 5
  • P. M. Kappeler
    • 4
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of Ecology and Genetics, Institute of Biological SciencesUniversity of Aarhus Århus CDenmark
  2. 2.Department of Wildlife Ecology and BiodiversityNational Environmental Research InstituteRøndeDenmark
  3. 3.Department of Applied Biology, Estación Biológica DońanaCSIC SevilleSpain
  4. 4.Department of SociobiologyGerman Primate CentreGöttingenGermany
  5. 5.Zoological Institute & Museum, Section Ecology & ConservationUniversity of HamburgHamburgGermany
  6. 6.Institute of Zoology und AnthropologyUniversity of GöttingenGöttingenGermany

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