Effects of Seasonal Water Scarcity on the Ranging Behavior of Eulemur fulvus rufus

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The climate of western Madagascar is characterized by a long (8–9 mo) dry season during which small rivers run dry, so that most animals are dependent on access to a few permanent water holes. We studied the effects of water scarcity at the end of the dry season on the ranging behavior of 4 groups of redfronted lemurs (Eulemur fulvus rufus) living at different distances from the Kirindy Riverbed in the Kirindy/CFPF forest northeast of Morondava. Using radio-collars, we located 2 resident groups with permanent home ranges near the river, and 2 non-resident groups and followed them for 60 days. We obtained a GPS reading every 30 min and later analyzed them with GIS ArcView to determine the size and location of each group's (core) home range. One group resided in direct proximity to the riverbed with several water holes and made regular short trips (mean 330 m) to drink. A second resident group had no direct access to water and made regular trips to the same water hole at a mean distance of 590 m from their home range. One non-resident group had a center of activity about 1300 m from the nearest water hole, to which they traveled on a non-daily basis. The other non-resident group established a temporary binuclear home range with one center of activity near the riverbed, about 2900 m away from the other center of activity. Thus, redfronted lemurs use different drinking and ranging tactics as a function of the distance of their core areas from the nearest water source.

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