Limestone cliff - face and cave use by wild ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta) in southwestern Madagascar

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Madagascar Conservation & Development


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Ring - tailed lemurs live in a range of habitats in southwestern Madagascar. To date, much of the knowledge of ring - tailed lemur ecology, biology and behavior come from riverine gallery forests sites. Recent years have seen an expansion of comprehensive research on this resilient species, including areas of limestone spiny forest along Madagascar’s southwestern coast. This work is documenting newly discovered behaviors by this species. The regular use of cliff - faces and embedded crevices and caves by ring - tailed lemurs in southwestern Madagascar are reported here. Cave use by several anthropoid primates has been explained as a thermoregulatory behavior. It is suggested that cliff - face and cave use by these ring-tailed lemurs serves several purposes, including resource acquisition, thermoregulation, and as an anti - predator avoidance strategy in the absence of suitable large sleeping trees. Observations indicate that the limestone boundaries of the Mahafaly Plateau and their associated xerophytic scrub forests warrant further conservation attention, given the presence of behavioral variation and increasing threats to this endangered primate species.

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