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Keywords:

  • life history;
  • maternal behavior;
  • infant development;
  • recruitment

Abstract

An understanding of recruitment is important for estimating population growth and viability, and their implications for conservation. We present the first results regarding the life history, maternal behavior and infant development of the critically endangered blue-eyed black lemur (Eulemur flavifrons) of Madagascar. The species breeds seasonally, with births occurring at the end of the dry season, between late August and October. Over two successive birth seasons in 2006 and 2007, we observed a total of 13 lactating females and 22 infants from six groups. We inferred age at first reproduction as 3 years, and calculated the birth rate as 1.0 infant per female per year with a mean inter-birth interval of 358 ± 24.81 days (319–410 days). Infants spent the first 3 weeks of life constantly with their mothers; locomotor independence and ingestion of solid food began at week 10, and the infants were weaned by week 25. After week 28, infants spent less than 20% of their time in contact with their mothers. Over the study period infant mortality was 22.7%, with predation and sickness observed as causes. Our results suggest that overall recruitment is relatively slow, which has implications for the species' survival, particularly given their restricted and threatened habitat. Am. J. Primatol. 73:474–484, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.