We here present the first behavioral, morphological, and ecological data on a living group of highland pygmy tarsiers, Tarsius pumilus, and compare them with the lowland tarsier species of Sulawesi. Pygmy tarsiers were previously known only from 3 museum specimens and had not been seen alive since the first specimens were collected in 1917 and 1930. As part of a 2-mo exploratory study, we recently located a group consisting of ≥4 pygmy tarsiers in the mossy cloud forest of Lore Lindu National Park, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia. We captured 1 adult female and 2 adult male group members. The tarsiers weighed a mean of 50 g, less than half the weight of adult lowland tarsiers. Our behavioral observations indicate that these tarsiers live in small groups that return to the same sleeping tree each morning. Though our data are preliminary, pygmy tarsier body proportions appear to differ from the lowland Sulawesian tarsier species, with relatively long hind limbs compared to total body length. We also observed differences in grouping and communication behaviors. Unlike lowland tarsiers, pygmy tarsiers possess multiple adult males per group and rarely vocalize or scentmark. These differences may correlate with variables unique to their high altitude habitat, especially a reduction in food and tree resources, given that tree density declined sharply along an altitudinal gradient. Our preliminary study identifies the importance of altitudinal ecological gradients to tarsier behavioral ecology in Central Sulawesi, providing questions and predictions for future research directions.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
Allen, J. A. (1877). The influence of physical conditions in the genesis of species. Radical Review, 1, 108–140.
Altmann, J. (1974). Observational study of behavior: sampling methods. Behaviour, 49, 227–267.
Bearder, S. K., & Martin, R. D. (1979). The social organization of a nocturnal primate revealed by radio-tracking. In D. W. MacDonald & C. J. Amlaner (Eds.), A handbook on biotelemetry and radio tracking (pp. 633–648). Oxford: Pergamon Press.
Bergmann, C. (1847). Über die verhältnisse der wärmeökonomie der thiere zu ihrer grösse. Göttinger Studien, 3, 595–708.
Brower, J., Zar, J., & von Ende, C. (1990). Field and laboratory methods for general ecology. Dubuque: Wm. C. Brown.
Crompton, R. H., & Andau, P. M. (1986). Locomotion and habitat utilization in free ranging Tarsius bancanus: a preliminary report. Primates, 27, 337–355.
Crompton, R. H., & Andau, P. M. (1987). Ranging, activity rhythms, and sociality in free-ranging Tarsius bancanus: a preliminary report. International Journal of Primatology, 8, 43–71.
Cui, L. W., Quan, R. C., & Xiao, W. (2006). Sleeping sites of black-and-white snub-nosed monkeys (Rhinopithecus bieti) at Baima Snow Mountain, China. Journal of Zoology, 27, 192–198.
Dagosto, M., & Gebo, D. L. (1998). Methodological issues in studying positional behavior: Meeting Ripley’s challenge. In E. Strasser, J. G. Fleagle, A. L. Rosenberger, & H. M. Muhenry (Eds.), Primate locomotion: Recent advances (pp. 5–3). New York: Plenum Press.
Dagosto, M., Gebo, D. L., & Dolino, C. (2001). Positional behavior and social organization of the Philippine tarsier (Tarsius syrichta). Primates, 42, 233–243.
Dammhahn, M., & Kappeler, P. M. (2005). Social system of Microcebus berthae, the world’s smallest primate. International Journal of Primatology, 26, 407–435.
Demes, B., Jungers, W. L., Fleagle, J. G., Wunderlich, R. E., Richmond, B. G., & Lemelin, P. (1996). Body size and leaping kinematics in Malagasy vertical clingers and leapers. Journal of Human Evolution, 31, 367–388.
Driller, C., Perwitasari-Farajallah, D., Zischler, H., & Merker, S. (2009). The social system of lariang tarsiers (Tarsius lariang) as revealed by genetic analyses. International Journal of Primatology, 30, 267–281.
Gosling, L. M. (1982). A reassessment of the function of scentmarking in territories. Zeitschrift Tierpsychologie, 60, 89–118.
Grubb, P. J. (1971). Interpretation of the ‘Massenerhebung’ effect on tropical mountains. Nature, 229, 44–46.
Gursky, S. L. (1995). Group size and composition in the spectral tarsier: implications for social organization. Tropical Biodiversity, 3, 57–62.
Gursky, S. L. (1997). Modeling maternal time budgets: the impact of lactation and infant transport on the time budget of the spectral tarsier, Tarsius spectrum. Ph.D. dissertation, State University of New York at Stony Brook.
Gursky, S. L. (1998a). The effect of radio transmitter weight on a small nocturnal primate: data on activity time budgets, prey capture rates, mobility patterns and weight loss. American Journal of Primatology, 46, 145–155.
Gursky, S. L. (1998b). The conservation status of two Sulawesian tarsier species: Tarsius spectrum and Tarsius dianae. Primate Conservation, 18, 88–91.
Gursky, S. L. (2000a). Effect of seasonality on the behavior of an insectivorous primate. International Journal of Primatology, 21, 477–495.
Gursky, S. L. (2000b). Sociality in the spectral tarsier. American Journal of Primatology, 51, 89–101.
Gursky, S. L. (2002). Determinants of gregariousness in the spectral tarsier. Journal of Zoology, 256, 1–10.
Gursky, S. L. (2007). Ecological and social factors selecting for gregariousness: Group size, composition, moon phase, and predators. In S. L. Gursky (N. Vasey & R. Sussman, Eds., Primate Field Studies Series), The spectral tarsier (pp. 83–110). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Gursky-Doyen, S. L. (2010). The function of scentmarking in spectral tarsiers. In S. L. Gursky & J. Supriatna (Eds.), Indonesian primates (pp. 359–369). New York: Springer.
Hanya, G., Yoshihiro, S., Zamma, K., Matsubara, J., Ohtake, M., Kubo, R., et al. (2004). Environmental determinants of the altitudinal variations in relative group densities of Japanese macaques on Yakushima. Ecological Research, 19, 485–493.
Iwamoto, T., & Dunbar, R. I. M. (1983). Thermoregulation, habitat quality and the behavioural ecology of gelada baboons. Journal of Animal Ecology, 52, 357–366.
Johnson, R. P. (1973). Scent marking in mammals. Animal Behavior, 21, 521–535.
Kappeler, P. M. (1990). The evolution of sexual size dimorphism in prosimian primates. American Journal of Primatology, 21, 201–214.
Kleiber, M. (1961). The fire of life. New York: Wiley.
Kleiber, M., & Rogers, T. A. (1961). Energy metabolism. Annual Review of Physiology, 23, 15–36.
Körner, C. (2007). The use of ‘altitude’ in ecological research. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 22, 569–574.
Lehman, S. M., Ratsimbazafy, J., & Rajaonson, A. (2006). Ecological correlates to lemur community structure in southeast Madagascar. International Journal of Primatology, 27, 1023–1040.
MacKinnon, J., & MacKinnon, K. (1980). The behavior of wild spectral tarsiers. International Journal of Primatology, 1, 361–379.
Marshall, A. R., Topp-Jorgensen, J. E., Brink, H., & Fanning, E. (2005). Monkey abundance and social structure in two high-elevation forest reserves in the Udzungwa Mountains of Tanzania. International Journal of Primatology, 26, 127–145.
Maryanto, I., & Yani, M. (2004). The third record of pygmy tarsier (Tarsius pumilus) from Lore Lindu National Park, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia. Tropical Biodiversity, 8(2), 79–85.
McNab, B. K., & Wright, P. C. (1987). Temperature regulation and oxygen consumption in the Philippine tarsier Tarsius syrichta. Physiological Zoology, 60, 596–600.
Merker, S. (2003). Vom Aussterben bedroht oder anpassungsfa¨hig? Der Koboldmaki Tarsius dianae in den Regenwäldern Sulawesis. Ph.D. dissertation, Georg August Universitat Göttingen, Germany.
Merker, S. (2006). Habitat-specific ranging patterns of Dian’s tarsiers (Tarsius dianae) as revealed by radiotracking. American Journal of Primatology, 68, 111–125.
Merker, S., & Muhlenberg, M. (2000). Traditional land use and tarsiers: human influences on population densities of Tarsius dianae. Folia Primatologica, 71, 426–428.
Merker, S., & Groves, C. P. (2006). Tarsius lariang: a new primate species from western central Sulawesi. International Journal of Primatology, 27, 465–485.
Merker, S., Yustian, I., & Muhlenberg, M. (2005). Responding to forest degradation: altered habitat use by Dian’s tarsier Tarsius dianae in Sulawesi, Indonesia. Oryx, 39, 189–195.
Microsoft Excel for Windows, Rel.11.3. (2004). Redmond: Microsoft Corp.
Miller, G. S., & Hollister, N. (1921). Twenty new mammals collected by H. C. Raven in Celebes. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, 34, 93–104.
Musser, G. G., & Dagosto, M. (1987). The identity of Tarsius pumilus, a pygmy species endemic to the montane mossy forests of Central Sulawesi. American Museum Novitates, 2867, 1–53.
Neri-Arboleda, I., Stott, P., & Arboleda, N. P. (2002). Home ranges, spatial movements and habitat associations of the Philippine tarsier (Tarsius syrichta) in Corella, Bohol. Journal of Zoology, 257, 387–402.
Niemitz, C. (1977). Zur funktionsmorphologie und biometrie der gattung Tarsius, Storr, 1780. Cour Forschung Institut Senckenberg, 25, 1–161.
Niemitz, C. (1979). Relationships among anatomy, ecology, and behavior: A model developed in the genus Tarsius, with thoughts about phylogenetic mechanisms and adaptive interactions. In S. Morbeck, H. Preuschoft, & N. Gomberg (Eds.), Environment, behavior, and morphology: Dynamic interactions (pp. 119–138). New York: Gustav Fischer.
Niemitz, C. (1984). An investigation and review of the territorial behaviour and social organization of the genus Tarsius. In C. Niemitz (Ed.), Biology of tarsiers (pp. 117–128). New York: Gustav Fischer.
Niemitz, C. (1985). An investigation and review of the territorial behaviour and social organization of the genus Tarsius. In C. Niemitz (Ed.), Biology of tarsiers (pp. 117–128). New York: Gustav Fischer.
Niemitz, C., Nietsch, A., Warter, S., & Rumpler, Y. (1991). Tarsius dianae: a new primate species from Central Sulawesi (Indonesia). Folia Primatologica, 56, 105–116.
Nietsch, A. (1999). Duet vocalizations among different populations of Sulawesi tarsiers. International Journal of Primatology, 20(4), 567–583.
Rae, T. C., Hill, R. I., Hamada, Y., & Koppe, T. (2003). Clinal variation of maxillary sinus volume in Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata). American Journal of Primatology, 59, 153–158.
Riley, E. P. (2007). Flexibility in diet and activity patterns of Macaca tonkeana in response to anthropogenic habitat alteration. International Journal of Primatology, 28, 107–133.
Schweithelm, J., Wirawan, N., Elliott, J., & Khan, J. (1992). Sulawesi parks program land use and socio-economic survey: Lore Lindu National Park and Morowali Nature Reserve. Jakarta: The Nature Conservancy.
Shekelle, M. (2003). Taxonomy and biogeography of Eastern Tarsiers. Ph.D. thesis. St. Louis, MO: Washington University.
Shekelle, M. (2008). The history and mystery of the mountain tarsier, Tarsius pumilus. Primate Conservation, 23, 121–124.
SPSS for Windows, Rel. 16.0. (2001). Chicago: SPSS Inc.
The Nature Conservancy. (2002). Lore Lindu National Park draft management plan 2002–2027 (Vol. 1). Arlington: The Nature Conservancy.
Thiollay, J. M., & Rahman, Z. (2002). The raptor community of Central Sulawesi: habitat selection and conservation status. Biological Conservation, 107, 111–122.
Tremble, M., Muskita, Y., & Supriatna, J. (1993). Field observations of Tarsius dianae at Lore Lindu National Park, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia. Tropical Biodiversity, 1, 67–76.
White, G., & Garrott, R. (1987). Analysis of wildlife radio tracking data. New York: Academic Press.
Whitten, T., Mustafa, M., & Henderson, G. (1987). The ecology of Sulawesi. Yogyakarta: Gadjah Mada University Press.
We thank the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), the Directorate General for Nature Preservation and Forest Protection (PHPA) in Palu and Jakarta, SOSPOL, POLRI, the University of Indonesia, Jatna Supriatna, and Ibu Wirdateti for their sponsorship while in Indonesia. Special thanks go to our field assistants for their help in collecting the data (Leo, Baso, Amar, Sapri, Fanny, Yusuf, Ramon, Gusno, No). We also thank all anonymous reviewers of this manuscript for their insightful comments. The research protocols for this research were reviewed and approved by Texas A&M University IACUC committees. The research conducted in this study complied with the laws of Indonesia. Funding for this research was provided by National Geographic Society, Conservation International Primate Action Fund, Primate Conservation Inc., and Texas A&M University.
About this article
Cite this article
Grow, N., Gursky-Doyen, S. Preliminary Data on the Behavior, Ecology, and Morphology of Pygmy Tarsiers (Tarsius pumilus). Int J Primatol 31, 1174–1191 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10764-010-9456-9
- Home range
- Prosimian behavior
- Pygmy tarsier