Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 61, Issue 6, pp 943–954 | Cite as

Genetic structure, lack of sex-biased dispersal and behavioral flexibility in the pair-living fat-tailed dwarf lemur, Cheirogaleus medius

  • Tina FredstedEmail author
  • Mikkel H. Schierup
  • Linn F. Groeneveld
  • Peter M. Kappeler
Original Paper


Mating system and dispersal patterns influence the spatio-genetic structure within and between populations. Among mammals, monogamy is rare, and its socio-genetic consequences have not been studied in detail before. The goal of our study was to investigate population history, demographic structure, and dispersal patterns in a population of pair-living fat-tailed dwarf lemurs, Cheirogaleus medius, a small, nocturnal primate from western Madagascar, and to infer their underlying behavioral mechanisms. Tissue samples for DNA extraction were obtained from a total of 140 individuals that were captured in two subpopulations about 3 km apart. Analyses of mtDNA variability at the population level revealed very low levels of genetic variability combined with high haplotype diversity, which is indicative of a recent population bottleneck. We found no evidence for spatial clustering of same-sexed individuals with identical haplotypes within each of two subpopulations but significant clustering between them. Thus, a high level of local subpopulation differentiation was observed (F ST = 0.230). The sexes showed equal variances in the number of individuals representing each haplotype, as well as equal levels of aggregation of identical haplotypes. Hence, both sexes disperse from their natal area, one pattern expected in a pair-living mammal. There is a possibility of behavioral and social flexibility in this species, however, because we documented pronounced differences in density and sex ratio between the two subpopulations, suggesting that single study sites or populations may not be representative of a given local population or even species.


Monogamy Genetic structure Dispersal Bottleneck mtDNA Cheirogaleus medius Primates 



We thank Joanna Fietz and Kathrin Daussmann for providing additional genetic samples. We also thank the late Madame Berthe Rakotosamimanana at the Département de Paléontologie et d’Anthropologie Biologique de l’Université d’Antananarivo, the late Albert Randrianjafy and Gilbert Rakotoarisoa of Parc Botanique et Zoologique de Tsimbazaza, Madame Olga Ramilijaona and Daniel Rakotondravony of the Département Biologie Animale de l’Université d’Antananarivo, the members of the Commission Tripartite and the C.A.F.F. of the Direction des Eaux et Forêts, and the CFPF Morondava for their authorization and support of this study. We thank Palle Villesen for programming the permutation test of haplotypes in R. Also, thanks to Stine W. Bjorholm for creating the GIS map and Benoit Goossens for very helpful comments on this manuscript. The German Primate Centre and grants from the WWF Biodiversity Fund and Augustinus Fond, Denmark, financed this work. T. Fredsted was supported by a Ph.D. grant from the Faculty of Science of the University of Aarhus, Denmark.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tina Fredsted
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mikkel H. Schierup
    • 1
  • Linn F. Groeneveld
    • 2
  • Peter M. Kappeler
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Ecology and Genetics, Institute of Biological SciencesUniversity of AarhusÅrhus CDenmark
  2. 2.Department of Behavioral Ecology and SociobiologyGerman Primate CenterGöttingenGermany
  3. 3.Institute of Zoology und AnthropologyUniversity of GöttingenGöttingenGermany

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