Leaping Ahead pp 215-223 | Cite as

Seasonality and Behavioral Energy Strategies in Microcebus berthae and M. murinus

  • Melanie DammhahnEmail author
  • Peter M. Kappeler
Part of the Developments in Primatology: Progress and Prospects book series (DIPR)


To survive and reproduce successfully in highly seasonal regions, ­animals must balance their energy budgets during lean seasons. We conducted a comparative study of two sympatric mouse lemur species to identify species-specific energy saving strategies for coping with seasonality and evaluated their consequences for female fitness. Since August 2002 we captured, marked and recaptured individuals of coexisting populations of Microcebus berthae and M. murinus in Kirindy Forest and recorded activity by direct observations of radio-collared females. The species differed in their seasonal activity patterns: female M. berthae maintained high activity levels throughout the year, whereas female M. murinus largely ceased activity during the cold dry season. In M. berthae, low survival restricted female reproductive potential. Consequently, females maximized the condition in which they entered the reproductive season. In contrast, M. murinus females maximized survival but entered the reproductive season in poor condition. Thus, mouse lemur species subjected to the same environmental conditions show different species-specific behavioral energy strategies to cope with pronounced seasonality.


Pour survivre et se reproduire avec succès and des régions très saisonnières, les animaux devraient équilibrer leur budget énergétique pendant la saison difficile. Nous avons conduit une étude comparative portant sur deux espèces sympatriques de microcèbes afin d’identifier deux stratégies spécifiques d’économie d’énergie utilisées pour faire face à la saisonnalité, et évaluer leurs conséquences sur le fitness des femelles. Depuis août 2002, nous avons capturé, marqué et re-capturé des individus dans deux populations syntopiques de Microcebus berthae and M. murinus, dans la forêt de Kirindy, et observé directement des femelles suivies par radio-pistage. Les deux espèces ont des rythmes d’activité saisonnière différents : les femelles M. berthae maintiennent un niveau d’activité élevé tout le long de l’année, alors que les femelles M. murinus cessent pratiquement toute activité pendant la fraiche saison sèche. In M. berthae, la faible survie réduit la durée de la carrière reproductive des femelles. En conséquence, les femelles maximisent leur condition physique pendant la période du début de la saison de reproduction. Par contre, les femelles M. murinus maximisent leur survie, mais commencent la reproduction en moins bonnes conditions. Donc, ces deux espèces de microcèbes, qui font face aux mêmes conditions environnementales, utilisent des stratégies énergétiques saisonnières différentes.



We acknowledge the authorization and support of this study by Profs O. Ramilijaona and D. Rakotondravony (Université d’Antananarivo), the Commission Tripartite and the CAFF of the Direction des Eaux et Forêts, the CNFEREF Morondava. We thank Rodin Rasoloarison, Léonard Razafimanantsoa, Tiana Andrianjanahary, Jean-Claude de Beroboka, Bruno Tsiverimana and the Equipe Kirindy for assistance in the field. Financial support was generously provided by DFG (Ka 1082/10-1and2), the Margot Marsh Biodiversity Foundation, DPZ Göttingen and Christian-Vogel-Fond (GfP).


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Abteilung Verhaltensökologie & SoziobiologieDeutsches PrimatenzentrumGöttingenGermany
  2. 2.Abteilung Soziobiologie/AnthropologieUniversität GöttingenGöttingenGermany

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