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Keywords:

  • beza mahafaly special reserve;
  • stable carbon isotopes;
  • stable nitrogen isotopes;
  • apparent fractionation;
  • feeding ecology

ABSTRACT

We examine the ecology of reddish-gray mouse lemurs from three habitats at Beza Mahafaly Special Reserve using focal follows and stable carbon and nitrogen isotope data. Focal observations indicate dietary differences among habitats as well as sexes and seasons. Both sexes consume more arthropods during the rainy season but overall, females consume more sugar-rich exudates and fruit than males, and individuals from riparian forest consume fewer arthropods and more fruit than those in xeric or dry forest. We ask whether these observations are isotopically detectable. Isotope data support differences between seasons and sexes. Nitrogen isotope values are higher during the rainy season when lemurs consume more arthropods, and higher in males than females, particularly during the dry season. However, differences among populations inferred from focal observations are not fully supported. Lemurs from riparian forest have lower isotope values than those in xeric scrub, but isotope data suggest that lemurs from the dry forest eat the least animal matter and that focal observations overestimated dry forest arthropod consumption. Overall, our results suggest that observational and isotopic data are complementary. Isotope data can be obtained from a larger number of individuals and can quantify ingestion of animal matter, but they apparently cannot quantify the relative consumption of different sugar-rich foods. Combined focal and isotope data provide valuable insight into the dietary constraints of reddish-grey mouse lemurs, with implications for their vulnerability to future habitat change. Am J Phys Anthropol 155:77–90, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.