Reproductive Schedules of FemaleMicrocebus rufusat Ranomafana National Park, Madagascar


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Abstract

I examined the reproductive status of female brown mouse lemurs (Microcebus rufus) from October 2005 to early January, 2006 at Ranomafana National Park, an eastern rain forest in Madagascar. I employed intensive capture/mark/recapture techniques to track individual changes in vaginal morphology and body mass and collected vaginal smears for individuals with open vaginas. I observed moderate estrous synchrony (vaginal openings between October 11 and November 18), with clusters of females showing strong estrous synchrony (6 of 15 on or around October 15, and 3 of 15 on or around October 25). My findings weakly support the proximity hypothesis—that closer females will enter estrus simultaneously—and offer virtually no support for the notion that body mass influences the timing of estrus in brown mouse lemurs. Females gave birth during the second and third weeks of December. Two females showing signs of abortion or perinatal death of offspring also showed renewed vaginal swelling in late December, suggesting that some form of polyestry, i.e., as reproductive compensation for infant loss, exists at Ranomafana. I discuss the implications of the data, in conjunction with other evidence of polyestry in wild mouse lemurs, in light of data on patterns of seasonality at Ranomafana and other sites. More data are needed to determine the frequency and pattern of polyestry in Microcebus rufus.

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