Abstract # 13:

Scheduled for Thursday, August 18, 2005 10:00 AM-10:15 AM: Session 2 (Mayfair Room) Oral Presentation

Female Dominance in three species of Wild Malagasy Lemur

D. Overdorff and E. Erhart
Texas State University, Dept. of Anthropology, C3200, Univ. of Texas-Austin, 1 University Station, Austin, TX 78712, USA
     Female dominance has been considered a hallmark of Malagasy lemurs but may not be as widespread as once thought. This study was designed to test for the presence or absence of female dominance over a three-year period in three species in southeastern Madagascar (Eulemur fulvus rufus (EFR), Varecia variegata (VV), and Propithecus diadema edwardsi (PDE)). Over a three-year period, observers documented affiliative and agonistic behaviors using focal animal sampling. Dominance of all females over males could not be clearly established in all three species for several reasons: 1) individuals within groups were not observed to interact agonistically with every group member, 2) agonistic rates were low (EFR 0.5 bouts/hr, PDE 0.21 bouts/hr; VV 0.61bouts/hr) compared to other female dominant lemurs, and 3) winners were determined in less than half of agonistic encounters (13% PDE, 20% EFR, 48% VV). However, when winners were determined, one female in each group was dominant to males and initiated the majority of undecided agonistic events. Yet remaining females in these groups were not dominant to males and dominance relations between females were unclear. These results were likely due to the small groups sizes observed (EFR 5-10 inds; PDE 4-5 inds; VV 4-9inds.), an unusually high number of group and individual migrations observed in VV and EFR, and the degree of relatedness in PDE family groups.