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The Beza Mahafaly Lemur Biology Project


Lemur catta is one of the two lemur species that has been studied over the longest period of time, beginning with Jolly’s (1966) and Sussman’s (1972) pioneering work on this species. Ring-tailed lemurs have been studied primarily at two sites in the south and southwest of Madagascar: Berenty and Beza Mahafaly.

While this species is found primarily in riverine and xerophytic and scrub forests in south and southwestern Madagascar (Jolly, 1966; Sussman, 1977), they are also found in spiny forests and low-lying limestone forests, and one population has even been found at Andringitra National Park in the central south-east, living above the tree-line at an elevation of 2500 m. (Goodman and Langrande, 1996).

Lemur catta has been defined as a very flexible “edge” species: able to withstand relatively extreme temperatures and recover from serious droughts (Sussman, 1977; Gould et. al. 1999; Sauther et al., 1999). They are the most terrestrial species of lemur, spending up to 30% of the time on the ground (Jolly, 1966; Sussman, 1974).

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