Ranging Behavior and Possible Correlates of Pair-Living in Southeastern Avahis (Madagascar)
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Researchers have proposed several hypotheses to explain pair-living in primates. In particular, when males are not involved in direct parental care, pair-living may be related to female dispersal, infanticide prevention, or male mate/resource defense. We aimed to evaluate, through a better understanding of the ranging patterns of avahis, which hypotheses may best account for pair-living in these nocturnal lemurs. We collected focal observations over 26 nights, June–September 2004, in a littoral forest (Sainte Luce, southeastern Madagascar) on 4 adult radiocollared avahis [Avahi laniger (Tattersall, I. (1982). The Primates of Madagascar. Columbia University Press, New York.) or Avahi meridionalis (Zaramody in Primate Reports 74:9–22, 2006)]. We followed 2 males and 2 females from 2 groups: B, a male-female couple, and A, comprising the parental pair and 1-yr-old female offspring. The adult females birthed in August. We recorded resting and feeding tree points (via global positioning system) for home range calculation through minimum convex polygon and kernel methods. We provide the first quantitative information on the ranging behavior of 2 male and 2 female avahis. Home range/daily path length values (means) are higher than the ones previously reported for the same and other folivorous pair-living lemur species. On average, the 2 females spent more time feeding and traveled shorter distances than the 2 males did. Male–female cohesion (mean values), possibly enhanced by offspring presence, was higher in A and after births than in B and before births, respectively. Although male avahis may be forced into pair-living owing to energy constraints related to size, locomotion, and diet, females might accept pair-living in exchange for indirect territory defense and mate guarding.