The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)


Mechanical food properties and tooth wear differentiate three populations of Lemur catta in southwest Madagascar

NAYUTA YAMASHITA1, FRANK P. CUOZZO2, MICHELLE L. SAUTHER3, PETER S. UNGAR4, ANDREA RIEMENSCHNEIDER4 and EMILY FITZGERALD4.

1Institute for Population Genetics, University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, 2Dept. Anthropology, University of North Dakota, 3Dept. Anthropology, University of Colorado-Boulder, 4Dept. Anthropology, University of Arkansas-Fayetteville

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Since 2008, we have been investigating the degree to which food mechanical properties may contribute to tooth wear in wild populations of Lemur catta in southwestern Madagascar. Our work has established that dependence on fruit of Tamarindus indica (kily) is related to the degree of wear. Here we compare diets of populations from our three sites and examine how different components of diet may contribute to wear.

We observed lemur populations in the gallery forest of BezĂ  Mahafaly Special Reserve (BMSR; Parcel 1), the dry/spiny forest of BMSR (Parcel 2), and the dry forest and scrubland of Tsimanampetsotse National Park (TNP) in wet and dry seasons from 2008-2012. Following plant collection, we tested foods for toughness, elastic modulus, and hardness with the Darvell mechanical tester.

Food toughness, but not hardness or modulus, is highest in Parcel 2; the TNP and Parcel 1 values are not significantly different from one another. Tooth wear follows a different pattern with wear highest in Parcel 2 and lowest in TNP. The pattern of wear does not match dietary toughness values except for Parcel 2; however, the pattern follows frequency reliance on kily fruit. Both Parcel 1 and Parcel 2 lemurs consume kily at high frequencies in the dry season (up to 65% of total feeding time), with the majority of the fruits in Parcel 2 eaten off the ground. The combination of high seasonal kily consumption and its high mechanical values may help explain the wear patterns in this particular primate population.

Supported by Austrian Academy of Sciences and NSF BCS 0922465.

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