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Keywords:

  • spatial distribution;
  • mating system;
  • sociality;
  • sleeping group;
  • lemurs;
  • Strepsirrhini

Abstract

Our study provides the first data on the social organization of the golden brown mouse lemur, a nocturnal primate discovered in northwestern Madagascar in 1994. The study was carried out in two 6-month field periods during the dry season, covering time before and during the mating season. The spatial and temporal distributions of the sexes in the population were investigated by mark/recapture and radiotelemetry. Focal observations and the determination of sleeping associations provided further insights into the sociality of this solitary forager. High intra- and intersexual home-range overlaps occurred throughout the study. In general, individuals of both sexes had spatial access to more than one conspecific of the same and the opposite sex. We found no indication for spatial monopolization of females by certain males. These results suggest a dispersed multimale/multifemale system with a promiscuous mating pattern. Individuals showed temporal stability in their home range locations and interacted regularly with conspecifics. Five sleeping groups were identified during the study period: one female group and four mixed-sex groups. Even though sleeping sites were changed frequently, sleeping-group compositions remained stable over time. Thermoregulatory constraints are the most likely explanation for sleeping-group composition with members of both sexes in this species. Mixed-sex sleeping groups can be described as the basic social unit within this dispersed multimale/multifemale society. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2003. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.