Habitat use and support preference of two free-ranging saltatory lemurs (Lepilemur edwardsi and Avahi occidentalis)

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Abstract

Lepilemur edwardsi and Avahi occidentalis are two species of nocturnal, folivorous ‘vertical clingers and leapers’ (VCL). They have a similar body mass and share the same morphological adaptation for leaping. In a field study under sympatric conditions at Ampijoroa, Madagascar, comparison of support use with support availability using Jacobs' D preference values (Jacobs, 1974) showed that both species actively chose or avoided branches with certain qualities. However, while both species showed a preference for small oblique and horizontal branches, they selected them at different heights in the forest and with varying degrees of preference and avoidance for the other available supports. Despite their traditional locomotor assignation, both species showed a surprisingly strong preference for horizontal supports. These striking variations in detail of support preference may aid the maintenance of species segregation and niche difference.

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