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Keywords:

  • Lemuridae;
  • Indriidae;
  • Strepsirhini;
  • Molar structure;
  • Primate ecology

Abstract

Field studies of feeding in the lemur subspecies Lemur fulvus rufus and L. f. mayottensis have revealed that feeding patterns within a single species can be markedly different, both regionally and seasonally. Thus L. f. rufus is a dietary specialist (3 plant species accounting for 80–90% of feeding time), and is highly folivorous, especially during the dry season (90% of feeding time spent eating leaves during the dry season, and 53% during the wet season). On the other hand, L. f. mayottensis is more generalized dietarily (the parts of 12 plant species accounting for 90% of feeding time), and is primarily frugivorous (64% of feeding time spent eating fruit, with a monthly maximum during the wet season of 79%. In both these respects, L. f. mayottensis resembles L. catta are more closely than it does L. f. rufus.

When size differences are corrected for, Lemur fulvus rufus has significantly longer second lower molar shearing crests than does L. f. mayottensis. Other folivorous Malagasy strepsirhines also tend to have longer shearing crests than frugivorous forms. Some data on cheirogaleines also suggest that the more insectivorous species have better developed molar crests than frugivorous species. Some apparent exceptions to this pattern are noted, especially for Lemur catta, which in certain functional respects dentally more closely resembles L. f. rufus than L. f. mayottensis. The problems of dietary classifications are discussed.