New developments in the behavioral ecology and conservation of ruffed lemurs (Varecia)



The papers in this issue were presented at a symposium during the 25th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Primatologists held in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in June 2002. This symposium brought together many of the scientists who have contributed to our knowledge of ruffed lemur ecology, behavior, and conservation in the past decade. One objective was to share and compare key findings about ruffed lemurs (Varecia) resulting from long-term field studies at various sites in Madagascar. A second objective was to cross-fertilize work being done in the wild with that being done in captivity, with the aim of advancing a common conservation mission for this critically endangered genus. Varecia is a prime candidate for synthetic assessments such as these because it has now been studied in both the northern and southern reaches of its geographic range, and has also been the focus of a captive-to-wild reinforcement project. The papers in this issue contribute to 1) the establishment of reference ranges for a suite of physiological parameters in healthy wild Varecia populations; 2) environmental enrichment aimed at preserving species-typical behaviors in captivity; 3) an understanding of how forest structure, floristic composition, and fruiting phenology in areas with differing disturbance histories correlate with the natural occurrence and abundance of Varecia; 4) primary knowledge concerning dominance relations between the sexes and group leadership in wild Varecia; and 5) primary knowledge concerning how wild Varecia, with their unusual reproductive pattern and heavy reliance on fruit, modulate their activity budgets seasonally and in tandem with reproductive stages. Am. J. Primatol. 66:1–6, 2005. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.