Differential habitat use by sympatric species of mouse lemurs across a mangrove–dry forest habitat gradient

Eric F Wuesthoff, Todd K Fuller, Christopher Sutherland, Jason M Kamilar, Rindrahatsarana Ramanankirahina, Romule Rakotondravony, Sarah Rouse, Ute Radespiel

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4 Citations (Scopus)
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Understanding the mechanisms by which similar species coexist in sympatry is a major driver of ecological research. Niche partitioning and ecological plasticity can facilitate spatial and habitat use overlap between generalist and specialist species. Mouse lemurs (Microcebus spp.) are a highly speciose group of small primates that are endemic to the forests of Madagascar. In northwestern Madagascar, the relatively widespread M. murinus occurs sympatrically with the microendemic M. ravelobensis. We investigated spatial distributions and densities of these two species across a mangrove–dry forest habitat gradient in Mariarano commune. We used capture-mark-recapture techniques and nocturnal line transect surveys along six transects during June and July 2017. Spatial capture-recapture and distance sampling models were used to estimate lemur densities across habitat types. The congeners displayed differential patterns of spatial distribution and densities. Microcebus murinus was found in similar densities across all habitat types, while M. ravelobensis was found at much higher densities in dry forests compared with mangroves. This suggests that the generalist M. murinus uses a wider array of habitats more evenly than the specialist M. ravelobensis. Our study provides empirical evidence of how cryptic lemur species differ in their habitat use and distribution across an environmental gradient and provides new insights into their ecology in an understudied habitat. Lemurs are one of the most threatened groups of mammals in the world, and understanding how these species are distributed across different forest types is crucial for planning and implementing conservation measures to protect lemur habitat.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1266–1278
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Mammalogy
Issue number5
Early online date24 Jul 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Jul 2021


  • Spatial capture-recapture
  • Sistance sampling
  • Microcebus murinus
  • Density
  • Microcebus ravelobensis
  • Niche


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