The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)

Adaptability within boundaries: support use in two species of Lepilemur


Musculoskeletal Biology II, Institute of Aging and Chronic Disease, The University of Liverpool

Friday 36, Plaza Level Add to calendar

We compare the locomotor behaviour of Lepilemur edwardsi within Ankarafantsika, with that of Lepilemur ruficaudatus in Kirindy-Mitea, Madagascar. Data from each species was collected by different individuals, ten years apart, but following exactly the same data collection protocol.

Locomotor mode frequencies were found to be closely comparable for both species: L. ruficaudatus leap 56%, vertical climbing 26%, other 17%; L. edwardsi leap 52%, vertical climbing 32%, other 16%. No significant differences were found in initial and terminal support orientation: both species having preference for vertical supports. However differences were observed in support diameter, whereby L. edwardsi used supports 5.1cm or larger more often than would be expected and L. ruficaudatus used supports 5cm and under more frequently than would be expected. Data further suggest that while support orientation is of high importance to these specialist leapers, they are able to adapt to available support diameters, suggesting that neither have strong preferences for support diameter, either for enhancing stability or to utilise support flexibility for takeoff or landing.

We propose rather that the differences between the two species are largely caused by habitat differences, specifically those brought about by the destructive effect of Hurricane Fanele in January 2009 on Kirindy-Mitea. Fanele was found to have damaged 95% of the trees, with 8.5% mortality. Trees with a larger diameter were found to be most likely killed or damaged. While individuals inherit their underlying biology they must adapt their expressed behaviour to the available environments, which are subject to change.

This work was funded by The Leverhulme Trust

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