Size, space, and adaptation in some subfossil lemurs from Madagascar



We examine several explanations for the geographic pattern of body size variation exhibited by the subfossil lemur Archaeolemur. Part and partial correlation analysis and multiple regression analysis are applied in a stepwise, hierarchical fashion to help to determine variables interdependencies. Variance in site menas for body size is best explained by the richness of the plant community and by several correlated climatic variables (bioclimatic zone and mean annual rainfall). Body size differentiation in Archaeolemur roughly mirrors patterns observed among many other Malagasy lemur species and subspecies groups. This consistency alone suggests that common ecological factor have strongly affected size differentiation in lemurs, most probably (as suggested by our correlation analyses) by uniformly influencing the productivity of their niches. Smaller individuals tend to inhabit arid regions, and larger individuals tend to inhabit wetter regions. The interplay between selective differentiation and allopatric speciation appears to have yielded the concordant pattern of size variation observed in Malagasy lemurs.