Abstract # 116:

Scheduled for Sunday, September 20, 2009 03:30 PM-03:50 PM: Session 11 (Mission Bay Ballroom AB) Symposium


PREDATOR RECOGNITION IN WILD BROWN MOUSE LEMURS (MICROCEBUS RUFUS): FIELD EXPERIMENTS IN RANOMAFANA NATIONAL PARK, MADAGASCAR.

A. M. Deppe1,2 and P. C. Wright2,3
1Interdepartmental Doctoral Program in Anthropological Sciences, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794, USA, 2Centre ValBio, Ranomafana, Madagascar, 3Department of Anthropology, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794, USA
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The nocturnal mouse lemurs are the smallest primates and are subjected to the highest predation rates among primates, being preyed upon by snakes, mammals and birds. The ability to recognize predators would greatly reduce predation risk. For a total of fifteen months (250 trap-nights) we tested whether fifty wild brown mouse lemurs changed their behavior in response to over thirty visual, olfactory and acoustic predator and control cues. Cues were presented in the forest alongside sixty baited live-traps placed in a 1-km2 area to examine whether cues were avoided [n=1320]. Additional testing took place in a controlled laboratory [n=290] and semi-natural cage [n=70] setting to record distinct behavioral changes such as fear and curiosity. Subjects responded most often with fear to snake models and some carnivore odors [G-test, p<0.05] but largely ignored play-backs, suggesting that vision and smell were most utilized in predator detection. Variability among subjects indicates that predator recognition involves leaning. Furthermore, the failure of many predator cues to elicit behavioral change suggests that the lemurs either did not perceive them as dangerous or chose to ignore them. Mouse lemurs may not be able to afford avoiding all potential threats because they must also pursue other fitness enhancing behaviors such as foraging. Funding was provided by PCI, CI and NSF # 1065277 and #0726166.