Is Temporal Plasticity in Lemurs a Strategy for Dealing with Unpredictable or Predictable, Seasonal Environments?

  • Deborah J. Curtis
  • Giuseppe Donati
Part of the Developments in Primatology: Progress and Prospects book series (DIPR)


Madagascar is unique among tropical regions, in that its diverse habitats pose numerous challenges to the animals inhabiting them, with different degrees of environmental unpredictability, seasonality, frequent droughts, and cyclones. We review the temporal strategies that two groups of lemurs, the lemurids and the cheirolgaleids, have evolved to deal with these factors and that are rare and unique, respectively, among primates. These strategies, cathemerality (day/night activity) and torpor/hibernation, may be the key to their broad distribution within Madagascar and their success in all habitat types on the island, as these lemurs can respond rapidly to abiotic and biotic variation and avoid the time and seasonal constraints placed on other primates.


Interannual Variation Activity Rhythm Mouse Lemur Fruit Availability Nocturnal Activity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Madagascar est unique, dans le monde tropical, du fait de sa diversité d’habitats qui pose de nombreux problèmes aux animaux, comme différents niveaux d’imprévisibilité et de saisonnalité, ainsi que de fréquentes sécheresses et cyclones. Nous passons en revue les stratégies temporelles, rares (cathéméralité = activité diurne et nocturne) ou même uniques (torpeur et hibernation) chez les primates, et rencontrées dans deux groupes de lémuriens, les Lémuridés et les Cheirogaleidés, en réponse à ces conditions environnementales. Ces stratégies pourraient être la raison de leur large distribution à Madadagascar et leur succès dans tous les habitats de l’île, dans la mesure où ces lémuriens sont capables de répondre rapidement aux variations abiotiques et abiotiques et ainsi éviter les contraintes temporelles et saisonnières qui affectent les autres primates.



We would like to thank Judith Masters and everyone else involved for organizing such a wonderful conference and Elke Zimmermann and Ute Radespiel for the invitation to participate in their symposium. Financial support was provided by Roehampton University for DJC to attend the Prosimians 2007 conference.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Human and Life SciencesRoehampton UniversityLondonUK
  2. 2.Nocturnal Primate Research Group, School of Social Sciences and LawOxford Brookes UniversityOxfordUK

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