An unusual case of affiliative association of a female Lemur catta in a Hapalemur meridionalis social group

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Polyspecific associations are well documented, but have rarely been observed in strepsirrhines. In this study we present a unique affiliative association between a female ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta) and a group of southern bamboo lemurs (Hapalemur meridionalis) in south-east Madagascar. Our main research focused on H. meridionalis; however, due to the presence of the L. catta we treated her as a group member, including her in the focal sampling of Hapalemur social behaviour. We also recorded ad libitum data on all food species/items and any unique events or occurrences. Among observations, both species appeared to have a mutual understanding of vocalisations, behavioural synchronisation, dietary overlap, and possible service exchange, e.g., grooming. We also observed the L. catta occasionally attending to the bamboo lemur infant. This included grooming, baby-sitting, and even transporting the infant. The behavioural flexibility exhibited by both species has allowed the successful integration of the female ring-tailed lemur.

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Figures

  • Female L. catta grooming with a juvenile southern bamboo lemur (Juv. 3). This figure is published in colour in the online edition of this journal, which can be accessed via http://booksandjournals.brillonline.com/content/journals/1568539x.

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  • Mutual grooming bout between the female L. catta and adult male H. meridionalis (Male 2). This figure is published in colour in the online edition of this journal, which can be accessed via http://booksandjournals.brillonline.com/content/journals/1568539x.

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  • Female L. catta and adult H. meridionalis (Female 1) feeding in close proximity on Panicum parvifolium grass in the Mandena littoral swamp. This figure is published in colour in the online edition of this journal, which can be accessed via http://booksandjournals.brillonline.com/content/journals/1568539x.

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  • Female L. catta transporting the H. meridionalis infant back to its mother (Female 2) after the infant fell from a liana tangle in which its mother ‘parked’ it. This figure is published in colour in the online edition of this journal, which can be accessed via http://booksandjournals.brillonline.com/content/journals/1568539x.

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  • Female L. catta grooms her foot while the infant H. meridionalis climbs on her back and grooms. These ‘babysitting’ situations appeared to provide the mother southern bamboo lemur (Female 2) relief from the infant by allowing her to forage without the extra cost of carrying and protecting the infant. This figure is published in colour in the online edition of this journal, which can be accessed via http://booksandjournals.brillonline.com/content/journals/1568539x.

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