International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 983–999 | Cite as

Geographic Variation in Populations of Microcebus murinus in Madagascar: Resource Seasonality or Bergmann's Rule?

  • Petra LahannEmail author
  • Jutta Schmid
  • Jörg U. Ganzhorn

Gray mouse lemurs (Microcebus murinus) occur in western Madagascar from the evergreen littoral rain forests at the southern tip of the island to the seasonal dry deciduous forests of the west and northwest. The wide geographic distribution allows researchers to investigate whether ecogeographic variations reflect adaptations to ambient temperatures, as a proxy for constraints of thermoregulation, or to rainfall, as a proxy of food availability. We compared body mass, number of litters/yr, and longevity for 3 populations: 1 from the evergreen littoral rain forest of the south (Mandena: annual mean temperature 23°C, 1600 mm rain/yr), 1 from the dry deciduous forest of the west (Kirindy/CFPF: 25°C, 800 mm), and 1 from the dry deciduous forest of northwestern Madagascar (Ampijoroa: 27°C, 1200 mm). Body mass decreases with increasing ambient temperature from south to north (Mandena > Kirindy/CFPF > Ampijoroa). The number of litters/yr was highest in the littoral rain forest (2 or 3 litters/yr) and decreased with decreasing rainfall (Mandena > Ampijoroa > Kirindy/CFPF). Life expectancy is lowest in the littoral forest (13% recaptures of mouse lemurs between years) and high (ca. 30–40% recaptures between years) in the dry forests (Mandena < Kirindy/CFPF and Ampijoroa). We postulate that constraints of thermoregulation result in the latitudinal gradient of body mass. Reduced resource productivity or seasonality is reflected in differences in reproductive rates, which seemed to be traded off against longevity. Thus body mass, longevity, and reproductive parameters respond differently to ambient conditions.


body mass lemurs life history traits littoral rain forest Madagascar Microcebus murinus morphometry reproduction 



We conducted the study under the accord de Collaboration between the Laboratoire de Paléonthologie et Anthropologie et Biologie Animale of the Université d'sAntananarivo and the Department Ecology and Conservation, University of Hamburg. We thank the Commision Tripartite and the Ministère pour la Production Animale et des Eaux et Forêts for permission to work in Madagascar. We thank QIT Madagascar Minerals and their environmental team, headed by Manon Vincelette and Jean-Baptiste Ramanamanjato, for help and support. Refaly Ernest helped greatly with trapping of subjects in Mandena. We thank the reviewers who helped to improve the manuscript substantially. The DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) and by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (Ga 342/8-1, Schm1391/2-4) supported the study in part.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Animal Ecology and Conservation, Biozentrum GrindelUniversity of HamburgHamburgGermany
  2. 2.Department of Experimental EcologyUniversity of UlmUlmGermany

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