Abstract # 117:

Scheduled for Friday, June 22, 2012 02:45 PM-03:00 PM: Session 18 (Camellia ) Oral Presentation


MATING SEASON SYNCHRONY OF THE RING-TAILED LEMURS AT BERENTY RESERVE, MADAGASCAR: 1964-2011

A. S. Mertl-Millhollen
University of Oregon, Dept. of Anthropology, Eugene, Oregon 97403, USA
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     Reports from captive and free-ranging settings have verified that the initiation of estrus is under photoperiodic control in ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta). This is the first report on the degree of synchrony in the wild. Ten years of data, published and unpublished, were collected by multiple observers at Berenty Reserve (latitude 25° 00' S, longitude 46° 18' E) between 1964 and 2011. The median date for first observed copulation in a year was April 20/21 (mode April 21, range April 8-May 2). Median duration of mating season was 15 days (range 4-23). Of 50 females observed copulating, two showed complete estrus synchronicity twice, mating on the same day within the same troop, and two were from two intermingled adjacent troops once. Because most copulations occurred during the last two weeks of April, a majority of births occurred in late August-September (Koyama, et al.), and weaning coincided with food abundance (Rasamimanana and Rafidinarivo). The variability in onset date for estrus in Berenty may relate to severe weather/resource abundance variability. Post hoc analysis indicates that the earliest date was in a year with abundant introduced forage. The latest onset date followed a devastating windstorm the prior October. It appears that photoperiodic control is not absolute and that relative resource abundance is a factor in the timing of the onset of estrus.