, Volume 55, Issue 2, pp 207–217 | Cite as

Cathemerality in wild ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta) in the spiny forest of Tsimanampetsotsa National Park: camera trap data and preliminary behavioral observations

  • Marni LaFleur
  • Michelle Sauther
  • Frank Cuozzo
  • Nayuta Yamashita
  • Ibrahim Antho Jacky Youssouf
  • Richard Bender
Original Article


Cathemerality consists of discrete periods of activity during both the day and night. Though uncommon within Primates, cathemerality is prevalent in some lemur genera, such as Eulemur, Hapalemur, and Prolemur. Several researchers have also reported nighttime activity in Lemur catta, yet these lemurs are generally considered “strictly diurnal”. We used behavioral observations and camera traps to examine cathemerality of L. catta at the Tsimanampetsotsa National Park, Madagascar. Nighttime activity occurred throughout the study period (September 2010–April 2011), and correlated with warm overnight temperatures but not daytime temperatures. Animals spent 25 % of their daytime active behaviors on the ground, but appeared to avoid the ground at night, with only 5 % of their time on the ground. Furthermore, at night, animals spent the majority of their active time feeding (53 % nighttime, 43 % daytime). These findings imply that both thermoregulation and diet play a role in the adaptive significance of cathemerality. Additionally, predator avoidance may have influenced cathemerality here, in that L. catta may limit nighttime activity as a result of predation threat by forest cats (Felis sp.) or fossa (Cryptoprocta ferox). Further data are needed on cathemeral lemurs generally, but particularly in L. catta if we are to fully understand the evolutionary mechanisms of cathemerality in the Lemuridae.


Lemur Cathemeral Diet Activity pattern 



The authors thank the government of Madagascar, Madagascar National Parks and the University of Toliara, Madagascar, for granting us permission to work at Tsimanampetsotsa National Park. We are grateful for the excellent research assistance provided by Megan Hoopes and Bronwyn McNeil. We thank the Beza Mahafaly animal darting team (Enafa Efitroaromy, Edidy Ellis, and Elahavelo) and the Tsimanampetsotsa National Park ecological monitoring team (Razanajafy Olivier, Lauren, Stephan), and local experts Fiti and Francisco. We are extremely appreciative to the Lanto, Bakira Ravorona, and their families for their facilitation, assistance, and friendship. We thank the University of Hamburg and Joerg Ganzhorn for the plant food nutritional analyses. We also thank Chia Tan and two anonymous additional reviewers for their feedback, which improved this manuscript. Last, we thank the lemurs of Tsimanampetsotsa, without whom this research would have not been possible. We, the authors, confirm that there is no conflict of interest that has influenced our objectivity. Grant sponsorship: NSF DDIG 1028708, NSERC PGS 296264, National Geographic Society Committee for Research and Exploration Grant 88011, and American Society of Primatologists 2009 Small Research Grant awarded to MML. NSF BCS 0922645, ND EPSCoR, University of North Dakota Faculty Seed Money Council Award, University of Colorado (IGP, CRCW), International Primatological Society, Primate Conservation Inc., American Society of Primatologists, to MLS and/or FPC. All data presented in this manuscript complied with the protocols approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee at the University of Colorado Boulder (Protocol number 1002.09), and the ethical standards of treatment as laid down by the Primate Society of Japan.


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Copyright information

© Japan Monkey Centre and Springer Japan 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marni LaFleur
    • 1
  • Michelle Sauther
    • 1
  • Frank Cuozzo
    • 1
    • 2
  • Nayuta Yamashita
    • 3
  • Ibrahim Antho Jacky Youssouf
    • 4
  • Richard Bender
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of ColoradoBoulderUSA
  2. 2.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of North DakotaGrand ForksUSA
  3. 3.Institute for Population GeneticsUniversity of Veterinary Medicine, ViennaViennaAustria
  4. 4.Département de Sciences BiologieUniversité de ToliaraToliaraMadagascar

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