Species-specific usage of sleeping sites in two sympatric mouse lemur species (Microcebus murinus and M. ravelobensis) in northwestern Madagascar

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Abstract

We investigated the sleeping site ecology of two sympatric mouse lemur species (Microcebus murinus and M. ravelobensis) in northwestern Madagascar during the second half of the dry season with respect to the type, quality, and usage pattern of the sleeping sites, as well as to social sleeping habits and response to potential threats. The type and quality of the sleeping sites differed between the two species. M. murinus used protected wooden shelters (tree holes) more frequently than M. ravelobensis, and M. ravelobensis used a broader variety of less protected sites (e.g., branches, lianas, and leaves) than M. murinus. Whereas male M. murinus usually slept alone, and female M. murinus mostly slept in groups, both sexes of M. ravelobensis slept in mixed-sex sleeping groups. M. murinus relied on crypsis in their sleeping sites, whereas M. ravelobensis regularly showed a flight response to the approach of an observer. This behavioral difference could indicate an adaptation to a higher predation risk in less protected sleeping sites. Whereas female M. murinus showed a high site fidelity, male M. murinus and both sexes of M. ravelobensis frequently changed their sleeping sites, which may also be interpreted as an antipredator strategy. The results are discussed with respect to three possible ecological explanations: interspecies competition, restricted resource availability, and niche differentiation. The latter is the most likely explanation for these interspecific differences. Am. J. Primatol. 59:139–151, 2003. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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