First evidence for relocation of stationary food resources during foraging in a strepsirhine primate (Microcebus murinus)

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Abstract

Field observations suggest that the diet of the Malagasy gray mouse lemur consists not only of non-stationary animal prey (invertebrates or small vertebrates), but also of stationary food resources such as gum or homopteran larvae secretions (HLS). We studied the foraging behavior of five mouse lemurs radiotelemetrically, each during six consecutive nights in the dry season, to explore to which extent they use these food resources and whether there is evidence for their relocation. We found that animals used all three different food categories. Mouse lemurs fed on gums and spent 68.5% (range 20.1–99.7%) of their feeding time eating this item. They were observed eating HLS in 8.4% (range 0–71.5%) of the feeding time and consuming small animals in 8.4% (range 0.3–26%) of their feeding time. The animals relocated stationary feeding sites significantly more frequently than non-stationary ones. They revisited the relocated stationary food sites about five times over the six nights. Furthermore, departure directions when leaving the sleeping site at dusk were not randomly distributed but showed a preferred orientation. Altogether, we provided first evidence for the relocation of stationary food resources in nature and thereby for the potential significance of spatial memory during foraging in a strepsirhine primate. Am. J. Primatol. 69:1045–1052, 2007. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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