The Social Organization of a Group of Semi-Freeranging Black-and- White Ruffed Lemurs (Varecia variegata variegata)
White, Erin Lynn
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The black-and-white ruffed lemur (Varecia variegata variegata) , along with many other endangered lemur species, is a major focus of Malagasy conservation work. In hopes of better conserving this species, primatologists are currently studying their varied social organization. Due to the difficulty of tracking this canopy dweller in the wild, most of what is known about ruffed lemurs comes from semi-captive observation. A group of five black-and-white ruffed lemurs were observed through 30 minute focal animal sampling methods at the Duke University Primate Center during the summer of 1997. This study suggests a low level of intragroup cohesion with pair affiliation formation, supporting a form of fission-fusion sociality. Quadrat data analysis of ranging patterns yielded sex differences in use of range. As a general rule, females used more quadrats than males, but males spent more time traveling within their smaller ranges, suggesting territorial patrolling. Introduction of a new adult male did not significantly increase the established group's stress, measured by the number of aggressive bouts. This male appeared to integrate successfully, and was tolerated by other group members. The mother-adult daughter relationship proved affiliative during the study and highly cooperative during the week of the introduction. The level of group cohesion and tolerance present in this group of black-and-white ruffed lemurs will enhance the success of their reintroduction into the Malagasy rain forest in the fall of 1997.With honors.
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