Diet of the Brown Mouse Lemur (Microcebus rufus) in Ranomafana National Park, Madagascar
Author: Atsalis, S.
Source: International Journal of Primatology, Volume 20, Number 2, April 1999 , pp. 193-229(37)
Abstract:The conventional notion is that small-bodied primates should be highly insectivorous in order to obtain protein and other nutrients from a food source that is more easily digestible than plant matter. I studied feeding behavior of Microcebus rufus for 16 months in the east coast rainforest of Ranomafana National Park. I determined the diet primarily through analysis of 334 fecal samples from live-trapped individuals. They consumed a mixed diet basically of fruit and insects year-round. I identified 24 fruits, while 40–52 remain unidentified. Bakerella, a high-lipid epiphytic semiparasitic plant, was in 58% of fecal samples that contained fruit seeds, and was consumed year-round irrespective of general resource availability. It served both as a staple and keystone resource. Fruit was less frequently totally absent from fecal samples of individual mouse lemurs than insect matter was. For Microcebus rufus, fruit may be a primary source of energy, not just complementary to insects. Fruit consumption increased in quantity and diversity during the latter part of the rainy season and the very early part of the dry season, when fruit production was relatively high. This pattern in fruit feeding is similar to that for mouse lemurs in the west coast dry forests and is related to specific nutritional needs dictated by the highly seasonal character of the life cycle. Coleoptera were present in 67% of samples examined and were consumed year-round by the subjects, but insect consumption did not increase during the rainy season when insect abundance was highest.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: Northwestern University, Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, 303 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60611. Sylvia Atsalis, Chicago, Illinois 60607 email@example.com
Publication date: April 1, 1999