Social Organization of Lepilemur ruficaudatus

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We characterize the spatial organization of red-tailed sportive lemurs (Lepilemur ruficaudatus) as a key aspect of their social organization and social system. Sportive lemurs are small (<1000 g), nocturnal and folivorous primates endemic to Madagascar. We studied a population of 57 individually-marked individuals in Kirindy Forest, western Madagascar, between 1995 and 2001. We radio-tracked 20 males and 26 females of the marked population to obtain detailed information on the size and location of their home ranges. Census data and morphometric measurements provided complementary data sets. Males and females occupied small (<1 ha) home-ranges. Long-term records from 9 individuals revealed home-range stability over several years. In 4 cases home ranges overlapped extensively with that of one member of the opposite sex; in 2 cases, a spatial association of 1 male and 2 females occurred. However, home ranges overlapped very little with neighboring individuals of both sexes. During the study period, spatially associated individuals used on average 5.6 sleeping trees within 117 days, but they spent on average only about every fourth night together. The data suggest that home ranges in red-tailed sportive lemurs are exclusively used by pairs or trios and that the modal social organization of red-tailed sportive lemurs is pair-living.

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