Reproduction in Coquerel's dwarf lemur (Mirza coquereli)

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Abstract

Most nocturnal Malagasy primates, as well as many diurnal species, are highly endangered in their natural habitat. Captive breeding programs have been established for many species, but detailed information on reproduction is only available for three nocturnal taxa: the mouse lemur (Microcebus murinus), the dwarf lemur (Cheirogaleus medius), and the greater dwarf lemur (Cheirogaleus major). In this study, we present data for another nocturnal Malagasy primate, Coquerel's dwarf lemur (Mirza coquereli), which has been propagated since 1982 at the Duke University Primate Center. Unlike all other Malagasy primates bred in captivity, M. coquereli cycles throughout the year, and is clearly less seasonal in its birth distribution than is C. medius or M. murinus. Estrous intervals ranged between 19 and 30.5 days. Estrus lasted no longer than 1 day. After an average gestation length of 89.2 days, litters of one or two were born. Females cycled for the first time between 8 and 15 months of age, and gave birth for the first time between 12.8 and 33.5 months of age. The earliest mating of a male leading to conception was observed at the age of 17 months. For males and females, an increase in daylength appears to trigger pubertal development. Males had seasonal changes in testicular volume which were not explained by covariation with body weight. Maximum testis size occurred in spring, when breeding activity was highest. The occurrence of year-round reproduction in M. coquereli, and the absence of seasonal fattening and/or hibernation, along with their specialized winter diet, may be correlated. © 1995 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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