Abstract # 2605 Event # 190:

Scheduled for Monday, September 21, 2009 09:45 AM-09:55 AM: Session 17 (Shell Room) Oral Presentation


A SEASONAL COMPARISON OF LACTATING VS. NON-LACTATING FEMALE VERREAUXI'S SIFAKAS (PROPITHECUS VERREAUXI) IN UNPROTECTED SPINY DESERT FORESTS OF SOUTHERN MADAGASCAR

J. J. Wehr1,2
1San Diego State University, Department of Anthropology, 5500 Campanile Dr., San Diego, CA 92104, USA, 2The Zoological Society of San Diego
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Activity budgets are behavioral responses to energetic needs. As with many species living in seasonal environments, the daily activity patterns of Verreauxi’s sifaka (Propithecus verreauxi) change over the course of the year. I investigated the role of the energetic stresses of early (September) and late (October/November) lactation on female sifakas in the unprotected forests of the commune of Ifotaka, in southern Madagascar. I used continuous focal sampling to collect activity budget data for nine individuals in two groups totaling 90 hours per month from September to November 2009. A paired samples t-test indicated that there was no significance difference in mid-day activity levels between lactating versus non-lactating females [t(5)=0.861, p=0.429] in mid-dry season (early lactation). During the late dry season (i.e., late lactation), non-lactating females spent significantly more time active between 09h00 and 15h00 than those lactating [t(5)=-2.81, p=0.038]. Results suggest that increased midday inactivity of lactating females in the late dry season may be a behavioral response to the energetic burdens of late lactation. These results point to specific recommendations for ex-situ conservation efforts for the species: for example, the provision of supplemental food resources during late lactation for optimal reproductive success in captivity.