[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Strong resource seasonality in Madagascar has led to the evolution of female feeding priority and weaning synchrony in most lemur species. For these taxa, pregnancy/early lactation periods coincide with low food availability, and weaning of infants is timed with increased resources at the onset of the rainy season. Reproductive females experience high metabolic requirements, which they must accommodate, particularly when food resources are scarce. Female ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta) residing in spiny forest habitat must deal with resource scarcity, high temperatures (∼36-40°C) and little shade in early to mid-lactation periods. Considered "income breeders," these females must use resources obtained from the environment instead of relying on fat stores; thus, we expected they would differ from same-sized males in time spent on feeding and in the intake of food and nutrients. We investigated these variables in two groups (N = 11 and 12) of Lemur catta residing in spiny forest habitat during early gestation and early to mid-lactation periods. Focal animal data and food plant samples were collected, and plants were analyzed for protein, kcal, and fiber. We found no sex differences for any feeding or nutrient intake variable for the top five food species consumed. Females in early gestation spent more time feeding compared with early/mid-lactation. Physiological compensation for spiny forest-dwelling females may be tied to greater time spent resting compared with gallery forest conspecifics, consuming foods high in protein, calories, and water, reduced home range defense in a sparsely populated habitat, and for Lemur catta females in general, production of relatively dilute milk compared with many strepsirrhines.
American Journal of Physical Anthropology 07/2011; 145(3):469-79. DOI:10.1002/ajpa.21530 · 2.38 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Primates vary in their choice or avoidance of plant foods high in condensed tannins (CT). Our study focused on CT intake in two groups of Lemur catta residing in spiny forest habitat during two reproductive periods. We examined whether L. catta in this habitat avoided plant foods high in CT, and whether reproductive females ingested lower concentrations of CT compared with males, since CT consumption compromises protein absorption. Feeding data and plant food samples were collected during reproductive periods in 2006 (early/mid-lactation) and 2007 (early gestation). Food samples were assayed for CT content, and average CT intake was determined for all focal animals. No significant difference was found in CT content of the most commonly consumed foods compared with other foods in each season or between seasons. No sex differences occurred in CT consumption in either reproductive period. These L. catta did not avoid plant foods high in CT, and three strategies - ingesting small amounts of CT regularly, high amounts only over short periods, and geophagy - may assist these lemurs in coping with CT content in their highly seasonal diet. L. catta may also be somewhat physiologically adapted to cope with CT concentrations in their plant foods.