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Keywords:

  • prosimian;
  • aggression;
  • competition;
  • juvenile dominance;
  • group stability;
  • husbandry

Abstract

Several species of Malagasy prosimians are characterized by female dominance, an unusual trait among mammals. We compare the extent to which female dominance is displayed and the mechanisms that are used to maintain dominance in the frugivorous blue-eyed black lemurs (Eulemur macaco flavifrons) and the folivorous gray bamboo lemurs (Hapalemur griseus griseus) housed at the Duke Lemur Center. All dominant–submissive interactions were recorded during 448 hr of focal animal observations. Both species of lemurs exhibited clear patterns of female dominance. However, the two species used aggressive dominance (defined as aggression+submission) and social dominance (defined as submission in the absence of aggression) to different extents in maintaining hierarchies within each group. The adult female blue-eyed black lemurs used aggressive dominance (e.g., chase, cuff, bite) in more of their dominance interactions (66%) than did the adult female gray bamboo lemurs (40%). In both species, rates of aggressive dominance interactions were higher during feeding versus nonfeeding periods and while in smaller outdoor runs versus larger natural habitat enclosures, but the differences were not significant. Overall blue-eyed black lemurs exhibit a more aggressive form of female dominance compared to the gray bamboo lemur. Zoo Biol 26:345–361, 2007. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.