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Keywords:

  • behavioral ecology;
  • morphology;
  • social system;
  • evolution;
  • lemur;
  • Madagascar

Abstract

Safe sleeping sites may be a limited resource crucial for survival. In order to investigate their potential significance for social organization in nocturnal primates, we analyzed the spatial distribution of daily sleeping sites, their characteristics, their usage, and sleeping group compositions in the nocturnal Milne Edwards' sportive lemur during a 6-month field study in the dry deciduous forest of northwestern Madagascar. Sexes did not differ either in body size or in body mass. Sleeping sites were used almost exclusively by adult male-female pairs. Individuals showed a high sleeping-site fidelity limited to 2–3 different sleeping sites in close vicinity during the whole study period. Most females showed a higher fidelity to one distinct sleeping site than their male partners. Sleeping groups consisted of one adult male and one adult female and remained stable in composition over the whole study period. Exclusive pair-specific usage of sleeping sites suggests sleeping site related territoriality of male-female pairs, perhaps influenced by inter- and intrasexual resource competition. Results give first insights into the distribution patterns and social organization of this species. They imply dispersed monogamy for the Milne Edwards' sportive lemur, with sleeping sites as a potentially restricted and defendable resource. Am J Phys Anthropol 121:000–000, 2003. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.