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Keywords:

  • feeding behavior;
  • phytochemistry;
  • seasonality;
  • nutritional stress;
  • frugivory;
  • Madagascar

Abstract

Data collected on the feeding behavior, food intake, and chemical analyses of plant foods were used to document seasonal variation in diet and nutrition in Eulemur mongoz in northwestern Madagascar. E. mongoz conforms to the general Eulemur dietary pattern, with a predominantly frugivorous diet supplemented mainly by leaves, flowers, and nectar. Phytochemical analysis revealed high water contents in all the main plant foods; mature fruit and flowers contained the most water-soluble carbohydrates; immature leaves were richest in protein and essential amino acids; the limiting amino acids in all plant foods were methionine and cystine; ash (mineral) content was highest in petioles and mature leaves; crude lipid content was highest in seeds; and crude fiber content was indistinguishable between immature and mature fruit and leaves. High-fiber foods were eaten during both seasons; the wet season diet was dominated by high-energy foods (mature fruit, nectar, and seeds), while the dry season diet contained foods high in energy (mature fruit and flowers) and high in protein (immature leaves) and minerals (mature leaves and petioles). However, nutrient intake did not vary between seasons, implying that nutrient requirements are met throughout the year. These results suggest we draw more conservative conclusions when interpreting dietary variability in the absence of chemical analysis, and also draw into question the idea that nutritional stress is a factor in the timing of reproduction in lemurs and, by extension, is linked to the prevalence of female dominance and small group size in lemurs. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2003. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.