The factors that limit the distribution of the highly diverse lemur fauna of Madagascar are still debated. We visited an understudied region of eastern Madagascar, a lowland rainforest site (Sahafina, 29-230 m a.s.l.) close to the Mantadia National Park, in order to conduct a survey and collect further distributional data on mouse lemurs. We captured, measured, photographed, and sampled mouse lemurs from the Sahafina forest, performed standard phylogenetic methods based on three mitochondrial DNA genes, and conducted morphometric comparisons in order to clarify their phylogenetic position and taxonomic status. The mouse lemurs from the Sahafina forest could not be assigned to any of the known mouse lemur species and were highly divergent in all molecular analyses from all previously described species. Since they also differed morphometrically from their sister species and from their geographic neighbors, we propose species status and include a species description at the end. This study suggests that M. lehilahytsara may be the first highland specialist among all mouse lemurs. The distribution of the newly described mouse lemur is not fully known, but seems to be rather restricted and highly fragmented, which raises serious conservation concerns.
Nonhuman primates may defend crucial resources using acoustic or chemical signals. When essential resources are limited, ownership display for a resource may be enhanced. Defending resources may depend on population density and habitat characteristics. Using the Milne Edwards sportive lemurs (Lepilemur edwardsi) and weasel sportive lemurs (L. mustelinus) as models, we tested whether two cryptic nocturnal lemur species differing in population density and habitat show differences in their vocal and chemical communication for signaling ownership of resources. L. edwardsi inhabits a western dry deciduous forest in a high-density population, whereas L. mustelinus is found in an eastern rainforest in low density. We followed ten L. edwardsi (six males and four females) and nine L. mustelinus (four males and five females) for 215?hr during the early evening (06:00-10:00?p.m.) and the early morning (02:00-05:00?a.m.) and recorded their behavior using focal animal sampling. We found that both species differed in their vocal and chemical communication. L. edwardsi was highly vocal and displayed loud calling in the mornings and evenings while feeding or in the vicinity of resting places. In contrast, L. mustelinus never vocalized during observations, but displayed tree-gouging behavior that was never observed in L. edwardsi. Tree gouging occurred more often during early evening sessions than early morning sessions. Subjects gouged trees after leaving their sleeping hole and before moving around. We suggest that, in weasel sportive lemurs, non-nutritive tree gouging is used as a scent-marking behavior in order to display ownership of sleeping sites. Altogether, our findings provide first empirical evidence on the evolution of different communication systems in two cryptic nocturnal primate species contrasting in habitat quality and population density. Further investigations are needed to provide more insight into the underlying mechanisms.
Related JoVE Video
Journal of Visualized Experiments
What is Visualize?
JoVE Visualize is a tool created to match the last 5 years of PubMed publications to methods in JoVE's video library.
How does it work?
We use abstracts found on PubMed and match them to JoVE videos to create a list of 10 to 30 related methods videos.
Video X seems to be unrelated to Abstract Y...
In developing our video relationships, we compare around 5 million PubMed articles to our library of over 4,500 methods videos. In some cases the language used in the PubMed abstracts makes matching that content to a JoVE video difficult. In other cases, there happens not to be any content in our video library that is relevant to the topic of a given abstract. In these cases, our algorithms are trying their best to display videos with relevant content, which can sometimes result in matched videos with only a slight relation.