International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 307–330

Distribution, Population Structure and Habitat Use of Microcebus berthae Compared to Those of Other Sympatric Cheirogalids



We aimed to identify the geographical and biotic limitations of Microcebus berthae, the smallest extant primate. Furthermore we analyzed the mating system of two local populations and their habitat use in relation to microhabitat structures and to those of Microcebus murinus and Cheirogaleus medius, two potentially competing lemur species. The range of Microcebus berthae is restricted to ≤220 km2 in the dry deciduous forest of western Madagascar. A very optimistic estimate of the total population size is ca. 7900 individuals. During a 13-mo mark-recapture study individuals were trapped from May 1995 to May 1996 at permanent trap locations 50 m apart over 2 study areas of ca. 25 ha each. The spacing of trap locations where individuals have been retrapped indicate that males have larger home ranges than those of females, which in concert with multiple intra- and intersexual range overlap indicates a promiscuous mating system. In contrast to the other 2 species, Microcebus berthae maintained specific habitat utilization patterns at 2 sites with different vegetation structures. Their habitat use in relation to vegetation characteristics differed from that of Cheirogaleus medius but not from that of Microcebus murinus. Co-occurrence patterns of Microcebus berthae and M. murinus deviated significantly from random and resembled a checkerboard distribution possibly generated by competitive exclusion. Thus, according to the niche concept, Microcebus berthae seem to be separated from Cheirogaleus medius by differences in food composition and habitat requirements, while they avoid direct competition with M. murinus by spatial separation.

Madagascar Kirindy/CFPF lemurs Microcebus berthae conservation mating system distribution competition 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Atsalis, S., Schmid, J., and Kappeler, P. M. (1996). Metrical comparison of three species of mouse lemur. J. Hum. Evol. 31: 61-68.Google Scholar
  2. Connor, E. F., and Simberloff, D. S. (1979). The assembly of species communities: chance or competition? Ecology 60: 1132-1140.Google Scholar
  3. Dausmann, K. H., Ganzhorn, J. U., and Heldmaier, G. (2000). Body temperature and metabolic rate of a hibernating primate in Madagascar: Preliminary results from a field study. In Heldmaier, G., and Klingenspor, M. (eds.), Life in the Cold. Eleventh International Hibernation Symposium. Springer, Berlin, pp. 41-47.Google Scholar
  4. Diamond, J. M. (1975). Assembly of species communities. In Cody, M. L., and Diamond, J. M. (eds.), Ecology and Evolution of Communities, Belknap, Cambridge, MA, pp. 342-444.Google Scholar
  5. Eberle, M., and Kappeler, P. M. (2002). Mouse lemurs in space and time: A test of the socioecological model. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 51: 131-139.Google Scholar
  6. Eisenberg, J. F., O'Connell, M., and August, P. V. (1979). Density, productivity, and distribution of mammals in two Venezuelan habitats. In Eisenberg, J. F. (ed.), Vertebrate Ecology in the Northern Neotropics, Smithsonian Institition Press, Washington, pp. 187-207.Google Scholar
  7. Fietz, J. (1995). Paarungs-und Sozialsystem von Microcebus murinus (J.F. Miller 1777). Diploma Thesis. Biologie, Universität Tübingen.Google Scholar
  8. Fietz, J. (1998). Body mass in wild Microcebus murinus over the dry season. Folia Primatol. 69(Suppl. 1): 183-190.Google Scholar
  9. Fietz, J. (1999a). On the mating system of Microcebus murinus. Am. J. Primatol. 48: 127-133.Google Scholar
  10. Fietz, J. (1999b). Demography and floating males in a population of Cheirogaleus medius. In Rakotosamimanana, B., Rasamimanana, H., Ganzhorn, J. U., and Goodman, S. M. (eds.), New Directions in Lemur Studies, Kluwer, London, pp. 159-172.Google Scholar
  11. Fietz, J. (1999c). Monogamy as a rule rather than exception in nocturnal lemurs: The case of Cheirogaleus medius. Ethology 105: 259-272.Google Scholar
  12. Fietz, J., and Ganzhorn, J. U. (1999). Feeding ecology of a hibernating primate Cheirogaleus medius: Or how do they get so fat. Oecologia 121: 157-164.Google Scholar
  13. Fietz, J., Zischler, H., Schwiegk, C., Tomiuk, J., Dausmann, K., and Ganzhorn, J. U. (2000). High rates of extra-pair young in the pair-living fat-tailed dwarf lemur, Cheirogaleus medius. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 49: 8-17.Google Scholar
  14. Ganzhorn, J. U. (2003). Effects of introduced Rattus rattus on endemic small mammals in dry deciduous forest fragments of western Madagascar. Anim. Cons. 6: 147-157.Google Scholar
  15. Ganzhorn, J. U., and Sorg, J.-P. eds. (1996). Ecology and Economy of a Tropical Dry Forest, Primate Report, Vol. 46–1, Special Volume, Göttingen.Google Scholar
  16. Ganzhorn, J. U., Ganzhorn, A. W., Abraham, J. P., Andriamanarivo, L., and Ramananjatovo, A. (1990). The impact of selective logging on forest structure and tenrec populations in western Madagascar. Oecologia 84: 126-133.Google Scholar
  17. Ganzhorn, J. U., Fietz, J., Rakotovao, E., Schwab, D., and Zinner, D. (1999a). Lemurs and the regeneration of dry deciduous forest in Madagascar. Cons. Biol. 13: 794-804.Google Scholar
  18. Ganzhorn, J. U., Wright, P. C., and Ratsimbazafy, J. (1999b). Primate communities: Madagascar. In Fleagle, J. G., Janson, C., and Reed, K. E. (eds.), Primate Communities, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UC0, pp. 75-89.Google Scholar
  19. Ganzhorn, J. U., Goodman, S. M., Nash, S., and Thalmann, U. (in press). Lemur biogeography. In Fleagle, J., and Lehmann, S. (eds.), Primate Biogeography.Google Scholar
  20. Hladik, C. M., Charles-Dominique, P., and Petter, J. J. (1980). Feeding strategies of five nocturnal prosimians in the dry forest of the west coast of Madagascar. In Charles-Dominique, P., Cooper, H. M., Hladik, A., Hladik, C. M., Pages, E., Pariente, G. F., Petter-Rousseaux, A., Petter, J. J., and Schilling, A. (eds.), Nocturnal Malagasy Primates, Academic Press, New York, pp. 41-73.Google Scholar
  21. IUCN (2001). IUCN 1996 Red List of Threatened Animals, IUCN—The World Conservation Union, Gland.Google Scholar
  22. Mittermeier, R. A., Ganzhorn, J. U., Konstant, W. R., Glander, K. E., Tattersall, I., Mayor, M., and Louis, E. E. (in preparation). Lemur diversity in Madagascar. Int. J. Primatol. Google Scholar
  23. Müller, A. E. (1999a). Aspects of social life in the fat-tailed Dwarf Lemur (Cheirogaleus medius): Inferences from body weights and trapping data. Am. J. Primatol. 49: 265-280.Google Scholar
  24. Müller, A. E. (1999b). Social organization of the Fat-tailed Dwarf Lemur (Cheirogaleus medius) in northwestern Madagascar. In Rakotosamimanana, B., Rasamimanana, H., Ganzhorn, J. U., and Goodman, S. M. (eds.), New Directions in Lemur Studies, Kluwer, London.Google Scholar
  25. Pastorini, J., Martin, R. D., Ehresmann, P., Zimmermann, E., and Forstner, M. R. J. (2001). Molecular phylogeny of the lemur family Cheirogaleidae (Primates) based on mitochondrial DNA sequences. Mol. Phyl. Evol. 19: 45-56.Google Scholar
  26. Pastorini, J., Thalmann, U., and Martin, R. D. (2003). A molecular approach to comparative phylogeography of extant Malagasy lemurs. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 100: 5879-5884.Google Scholar
  27. Petter, J. J., Albignac, R., and Rumpler, Y. (eds.) (1977). Faune de Madagascar: Mammifères Lémuriens, Vol. 44, ORSTOM CNRS, Paris.Google Scholar
  28. Prins, H. H. T., and Reitsma, J. M. (1989). Mammalian biomass in an African equatorial rain forest. J. Anim. Ecol. 58: 851-861.Google Scholar
  29. Radespiel, U., Ehresmann, P., and Zimmermann, E. (2001a). Contest versus scramble competition for mates: The composition and spatial structure of a population of Gray mouse lemurs (Microcebus murinus) in North-west Madagascar. Primates 42: 207-220.Google Scholar
  30. Radespiel, U., Sarikaya, Z., Zimmermann, E., and Bruford, M. W. (2001b). Sociogenetic structure in a free-living nocturnal primate population: Sex-specific differences in the gry mouse lemur (Microcebus murinus). Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 50: 493-502.Google Scholar
  31. Rasoloarison, R. M., Goodman, S. M., and Ganzhorn, J. U. (2000). A taxonomic revision of mouse lemurs (Microcebus) occuring in the western portions of Madagascar. Int. J. Primatol. 21: 963-1019.Google Scholar
  32. Rendigs, A., Radespiel, U., Wrogemann, D., and Zimmermann, E. (2003). Relationship between microhabitat structure and distribution in mouse lemurs (Microcebus spp.) of northwestern Madagascar. Int. J. Primatol. 24: 47-64.Google Scholar
  33. Rumpler, Y., Ganzhorn, J. U., Tomiuk, J., Leipoldt, M., and Warter, S. (1998). A cytogenetic study of Microcebus myoxinus. Folia Primatol. 69: 307-311.Google Scholar
  34. Rylands, A. B., Mittermeier, R. A., and Konstant, W. R. (2002). Species and subspecies of primates described since 1990. Lemur News 7: 5-6.Google Scholar
  35. Schmelting, B., Ehresmann, P., Lutermann, H., Randrianambinina, B., and Zimmermann, E. (2000). Reproduction of two sympatric Mouse Lemur species (Microcebus murinus and M. ravelobensis) in north-west Madagascar: First results of a long term study. In Lourenço, W. R., and Goodman, S. M. (eds.), Diversité et Endemisme à Madagascar. Mémoires de la Société de Biogéographie, Paris, pp. 165-175.Google Scholar
  36. Schmid, J. (2000). Daily torpor in the gray mouse lemur (Microcebus murinus) in Madagascar: Energetic consequences and biological significance. Oecologia 123: 175-183.Google Scholar
  37. Schmid, J., and Kappeler, P. M. (1994). Sympatric Mouse lemurs (Microcebus spp.) in western Madagascar. Folia Primatol. 63: 162-170.Google Scholar
  38. Schmid, J., and Kappeler, P. M. (1998). Fluctuating sexual dimorphism and differential hibernation by sex in a primate, the gray mouse lemur (Microcebus murinus). Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 43: 125-132.Google Scholar
  39. Schmid, J., Ruf, T., and Heldmaier, G. (2000). Metabolism and temperature regulation during daily torpor in the smallest primate, the pygmy mouse lemur (Microcebus myoxinus) in Madagascar. J. Comp. Physiol. B 170: 59-68.Google Scholar
  40. Schwab, D. (2000a). A preliminary study of spatial distribution and mating system of Pygmy Mouse Lemurs (Microcebus cf myoxinus). Am. J. Primatol. 51: 41-60.Google Scholar
  41. Schwab, D. (2000b). Erratum. Am. J. Primatol. 51: 216.Google Scholar
  42. Smith, A. P. (1997). Deforestation, fragmentation, and reserve design in western Madagascar. In Laurance, W. F., and Bierregaard, R. O. (eds.), Tropical Forest Remnants, Ecology, Management and Conservation of Fragmented Communities, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp. 415-441.Google Scholar
  43. Sommer, S., Toto Volahy, A., and Seal, U. S. (2002a). A population and habitat viability assessment for the highly endangered Giant Jumping Rat (Hypogeomys antimena), the largest endemic rodent of Madagascar. Anim. Cons. 5: 263-273.Google Scholar
  44. Sommer, S., Schwab, D., and Ganzhorn, J. U. (2002b). MHC diversity of Malagasy rodents in relation to range contraction and social system. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 51: 214-221.Google Scholar
  45. SPSS. (1999). SPSS Base 9.0 User's Guide, SPSS Inc., Chicago.Google Scholar
  46. Sterck, E. H. M., Watts, D. P., and van Schaik, C. P. (1997). The evolution of female social relationships in nonhuman primates. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 41: 291-309.Google Scholar
  47. Strong, D. R. J., Simberloff, D., Abele, L. G., and Thistle, A. B. (eds.) (1984). Ecological communities: conceptual issues and the evidence, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NP0.Google Scholar
  48. Sussman, R. W. (1999). Primate Ecology and Social Structure, Vol. 1, Pearson Custom Publishing, Needham HP0.Google Scholar
  49. Thalmann, U., and Rakotoarison, N. (1994). Distribution of lemurs in central western Madagascar, with a regional distribution hypothesis. Folia Primatol. 63: 156-161.Google Scholar
  50. Tidd, S. T., Pinder, J. E., and Ferguson, G. W. (2001). Deforestation and habitat loss for the Malagasy flat-tailed tortoise from 1963 through 1993. Chelonian Conserv. Biol. 4: 59-65.Google Scholar
  51. Yoder, A. D., Rasoloarison, R. M., Goodman, S. M., Irwin, J. A., Atsalis, S., Ravosa, S., and Ganzhorn, J. U. (2000). Remarkable species diversity in Malagasy mouse lemurs (Primates, Microcebus). Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 97: 11325-11330.Google Scholar
  52. Yoder, A. D., Burns, M. M., and Génin, F. (2002). Molecular evidence of reproductive isolation in sympatric sibling species of mouse lemurs. Int. J. Primatol. 23: 1335-1343.Google Scholar
  53. Zimmermann, E., Cepok, S., Rakotoarison, N., Zietemann, V., and Radespiel, U. (1998). Sympatric mouse lemurs in north-west Madagascar: A new Rufous mouse lemur species (Microcebus ravelobensis). Folia Primatol. 69: 106-114.Google Scholar
  54. Zinner, D., Ostner, J., Dill, A., Razafimanantsoa, L., and Rasoloarison, R. (2001). Results of a reconnaissance expedition in the western dry forests between Morondava and Morombe. Lemur News 6: 16-18.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Abt. Verhaltensforschung und ÖkologieDeutsches PrimatenzentrumGöttingenGermany

Personalised recommendations