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Keywords:

  • admixture;
  • human population genetics;
  • anthropometry

Abstract

Interspecific competition has been suggested to influence the biogeographic distribution patterns of species. A high competitive potential could entail species-specific advantages during resource acquisition that could translate into a higher potential for range expansion. We investigated whether differences in the competitive potential of the morphologically similar and partially sympatric gray mouse lemur (Microcebus murinus) and golden-brown mouse lemur (Microcebus ravelobensis) may help to explain differences in their geographic range sizes. We carried out encounter experiments with 14 pairs of captured female mouse lemurs of both species. The experimental dyads were tested in a two-cage arrangement, with individuals being separated from each other outside the experiments. Two days of habituation and four subsequent days of 1-h encounter experiments were conducted, before releasing the animals again in the wild. In general, the M. murinus individuals won significantly more conflicts than their partners. In eight of 14 tested pairs, there was a significant species bias in winning conflicts, and in 87.5% of these dyads, M. murinus was the “dyad winner”. A high competitive potential did not depend on body mass. Furthermore, “dyad winners” spent more time feeding (P < 0.05) and were less spatially restricted than “dyad losers”. To conclude, our results suggest that the widely distributed M. murinus may indeed have a higher competitive potential than the regional endemic M. ravelobensis, which may, among other possible factors, have enabled this species to expand geographically, despite the presence of other competing congeners. Am J Phys Anthropol 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.