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Cathemerality in wild ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta) in the spiny forest of Tsimanampetsotsa National Park: Camera trap data and preliminary behavioral observations

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Cathemerality consists of discrete periods of activity during both the day and night. Though uncommon within Primates, cathemerality is prevalent in some lemur genera, such as Eulemur, Hapalemur, and Prolemur. Several researchers have also reported nighttime activity in Lemur catta, yet these lemurs are generally considered "strictly diurnal". We used behavioral observations and camera traps to examine cathemerality of L. catta at the Tsimanampetsotsa National Park, Madagascar. Nighttime activity occurred throughout the study period (September 2010-April 2011), and correlated with warm overnight temperatures but not daytime temperatures. Animals spent 25 % of their daytime active behaviors on the ground, but appeared to avoid the ground at night, with only 5 % of their time on the ground. Furthermore, at night, animals spent the majority of their active time feeding (53 % nighttime, 43 % daytime). These findings imply that both thermoregulation and diet play a role in the adaptive significance of cathemerality. Additionally, predator avoidance may have influenced cathemerality here, in that L. catta may limit nighttime activity as a result of predation threat by forest cats (Felis sp.) or fossa (Cryptoprocta ferox). Further data are needed on cathemeral lemurs generally, but particularly in L. catta if we are to fully understand the evolutionary mechanisms of cathemerality in the Lemuridae.
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... In order to identify possible periods of positive and negative energy balance, we estimate the metabolizable energy intake in different seasons and contrast these estimates with the total energy expenditure (TEE) measured previously with doubly labeled water at the same study site in both species (Berenty Reserve [Simmen et al., 2010]). Finally, we discuss whether the cathemeral behavior (i.e., significant nocturnal and diurnal activity) reported for these lemurs, one characteristic of the so-called "lemur syndrome" [Wright, 1999], may be a consequence of an insufficient energy intake during daytime or the low ability of these species to digest plant fibers [Engqvist and Richard, 1991;Donati et al., 2007Donati et al., , 2009Donati et al., , 2013LaFleur et al., 2014]. Based on the seasonal pattern of nocturnality reported for E. rufifrons × collaris at Berenty and some activity of L. catta at night at Berenty [Donati et al., 2013], we made the following predictions: during the dry season, the 2 lemur species are not able to meet their energy needs (with possible species differences) by simply feeding during the day, even accounting for body fat stored during the wet season. ...
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Thesis
The relationship between a predator and its prey is multifaceted and this study aims to expand one of the keystone concepts within predator prey interactions. The spatial and temporal changes in a prey animal's behaviour when there is a perceived risk of predation. Hyrax, a small African mammal, plays an integral role in rocky habitats as a key food source for many predators. The purpose of this study was to test the impact of predation on hyrax using giving-up density (GUD) experiments to establish a landscape of fear. Due to the absence of interaction from the hyrax with the GUD experiments a camera trapping protocol was implemented to collect behavioural data on hyrax in the Soutpansberg Mountains in northern South Africa. The study aimed to test a number of conclusions made in the literature about hyrax including their classification as a diurnal species, the potential for nocturnal activity and the impact of predation on the diel cycle. Behavioural plasticity with respect to seasonal and environmental changes is also explored including the extent to which they display behavioural thermoregulation. Hyrax showed nocturnal activity with 8.4% of activity occurring within the dark hours of the 24-hour period but the level of predation pressure may be limiting the level of nocturnality. Hyraxes were also significantly impacted by environmental variables. Activity increased with temperature in all four seasons and rainfall had an immediate effect of reducing activity. It was shown that hyrax demonstrate site specific activity that is consistent over time but can vary within a location. This study is novel in its methods for studying hyrax and has presented new information on this understudied species that may have far reaching implications for future studies on hyrax and their predators.
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Method
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Chapter
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