In this study we followed hairy-eared dwarf lemurs (Allocebus trichotis), a small nocturnal strepsirrhine primate, using radio-tracking during a one year study. Our aim was to clarify the behavioural ecology of the species and in particular to determine habitat use, social organisation and seasonal activity cycle. We conducted field work between January and
December 2007 in the Analamazaotra Special Reserve, Andasibe, central eastern Madagascar. After capturing and measuring eleven individuals, we followed two males and two females for eight months and two additional females for three months. Adults weighed about 77 g, measured 13-14 cm and had a 12-15 cm tail. The much larger home range of Allocebus trichotis compared to other Cheirogaleidae (mean: 15 ha (MCP), 5 ha (kernel)) could be due to the highly insectivorous diet or the use of patchily distributed gum-trees. Each focal animal used four or five different tree holes and shared these with conspecifics and occasionally with white-tailed tree rats (Brachytarsomys albicauda). Tree holes were in living trees with average diameters at breast height of 32 cm, at median heights of 7 m. Tree holes could have antipredator and thermoregulatory functions and might be a limiting resource. Hairy-eared dwarf lemurs mainly used the small branch niche, five to ten meters above ground. Their diet was gummivore-insectivore. We propose a dispersed pair-bonded multi-male/multi-female social system with a monogamous or slightly promiscuous mating system. During the colder drier season, most animals decreased activity and entered periods of daily torpor, especially the heavier ones. The mating season probably lasted from October to December with births between December and February. Although this study presents crucial data on a rare nocturnal species, its small sample sizes call for additional research. Continued efforts are needed to assess the conservation status of this Data Deficient species. Fortunately, this and recent studies prove the feasibility of research on small nocturnal strepsirrhine primates in the eastern rainforests of Madagascar.
Faculty of Health and Life SciencesDepartment of Biological and Medical Sciences
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