Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Solitary lemurs avoid danger with a little help from the neighbors

Date:
July 5, 2013
Source:
University of Bristol
Summary:
An endangered species of Madagascan lemur uses the alarm calls of birds and other lemurs to warn it of the presence of predators, a new study has found. This is the first time this phenomenon has been observed in a solitary and nocturnal lemur species.

The Sahamalaza sportive lemur (Lepilemur sahamalazensis) roosts during the day in rather open situations such as tree holes.
Credit: Image copyright Melanie Seiler

An endangered species of Madagascan lemur uses the alarm calls of birds and other lemurs to warn it of the presence of predators, a new study by researchers from the University of Bristol and Bristol Zoo with the University of Torino has found. This is the first time this phenomenon has been observed in a solitary and nocturnal lemur species.

Very little is known about the Sahamalaza sportive lemur (Lepilemur sahamalazensis), other than the fact it roosts during the day in rather open situations, such as tree holes, and therefore risks falling victim to predators from both the air and the ground.

Sportive lemurs are not kept in any zoo. Prior to this research virtually nothing was known about this particular species despite the fact that it has been classified as Critically Endangered, the top threat category of the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, at a red-listing workshop in Madagascar in July 2012.

Dr Melanie Seiler, a researcher at Bristol Zoo and the University of Bristol, and lead author of the study, said: "We were seeking any information we could gather that could help us understand this species better, with the objective of improving targeted conservation efforts.

"One of the problems of small nocturnal species is that they don't get a great deal of scientific or conservation attention. The Sahamalaza sportive lemur doesn't have striking blue eyes like blue-eyed black lemurs or any other unusual features. That means that no-one had really looked into what these animals need to survive."

Dr Marc Holderied of the University of Bristol said: "Until our study, a solitary and nocturnal lemur species had never been tested to see if it could understand other species' alarm calls and differentiate between them. We were also the first to test any species of lemur to see if it could recognise the alarm calls of a non-primate species."

The researchers found that the vigilance of sportive lemurs significantly increased after they heard playbacks of the alarm calls of the crested coua and the Madagascar magpie-robin. They also responded with increased vigilance to the aerial alarm calls of the blue-eyed black lemur, scanning towards the sky but never the ground which suggests they classified the alarm call correctly.

Dr Holderied said: "Our results indicate that the Sahamalaza sportive lemur is capable of gleaning information on predator presence and predator type from the referential signals of different surrounding species. Examples for cross-species semantics in lemurs are rare, and this is the first record of lemurs using information across vertebrate classes."

The lemurs of Sahamalaza National Park in northwest Madagascar are threatened by deforestation, hunting and forest fragmentation. Bristol Zoo is working to preserve the small bits of forest, roughly 200 hectares on the Sahamalaza Peninsula, that they have left which is vitally important for the continued survival of this and other lemur species.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Bristol. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Melanie Seiler, Christoph Schwitzer, Marco Gamba, Marc W. Holderied. Interspecific Semantic Alarm Call Recognition in the Solitary Sahamalaza Sportive Lemur, Lepilemur sahamalazensis. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (6): e67397 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0067397

Cite This Page:

University of Bristol. "Solitary lemurs avoid danger with a little help from the neighbors." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 July 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130705113619.htm>.
University of Bristol. (2013, July 5). Solitary lemurs avoid danger with a little help from the neighbors. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130705113619.htm
University of Bristol. "Solitary lemurs avoid danger with a little help from the neighbors." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130705113619.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Attacking Superbugs

Attacking Superbugs

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) — Two weapons hospitals can use to attack superbugs. Scientists in Ireland created a new gel resistant to superbugs, and a robot that can disinfect a room in minutes. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time

Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) — Cultural transmission — the passing of knowledge from one animal to another — has been caught on camera with chimps teaching other chimps. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) — A new study published by the World Wide Fund for Nature found that more than half of the world's wildlife population has declined since 1970. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Annual Dog Surfing Competition Draws California Crowds

Annual Dog Surfing Competition Draws California Crowds

AFP (Sep. 30, 2014) — The best canine surfers gathered for Huntington Beach's annual dog surfing competition, "Surf City, Surf Dog." Duration: 01:15 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins