Crowned lemur

Lemur coronatus

TAXONOMY

Lemur coronatus Gray, 1842, Madagascar. OTHER COMMON NAMES

French: Lémur couronné; German: Kronenmaki; Spanish: Lemur coronado.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Head-and-body length averages 13.4 in (34 cm), tail length 17.7 in (45 cm). Adult body weight averages 4.5 lb (2 kg). The species is sexually dichromatic. Males are gray-brown, females are more gray. The male wears a triangular patch of black fur between his ears, and the female keeps a bright red-orange V-shaped patch leading from the brows back and along the bases of the ears; these are the "crowns" of the common name. Crowned lemurs have scent glands for marking territory on their hands, arms, face, genitals, and anus.

DISTRIBUTION

Crowned lemurs live from near the very northern tip of Madagascar, westward to the Ankarana Massif, and eastward to the east to the Fanambana River south of Vohimarina, in all the coastal zones and at low altitude. Their range includes the slopes of Montagne d'Ambre and the dry forests of the Cap d'Ambre.

HABITAT

Crowned lemurs have adapted quite well to humid tropical rainforest, dry tropical forests, and forested land in various stages of degradation. The primary humid forest that is home to crowned lemurs is on and around Montagne d'Ambre outside of Antsiranana (Diego Suarez). That forest abuts on the drier forest of the Cap d'Ambre, which is also home to crowned lemurs. The species also lives in remaining areas of lowland dry forest in northern Madagascar. They have adapted well to degraded forest and even grassland studded with isolated trees, the lemurs hiking overland between trees, which they use as refuges.

BEHAVIOR

Crowned lemur group size runs from two to 11. A typical group has five or six individuals, two adult pairs and one or two younger sub-adults.

Times of activity vary throughout the range. Generally, groups rouse near dawn and forage until nightfall with a four-hour rest in the middle of the day, although some groups will continue to forage for a few hours after night sets in.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

The crowned lemur's menu includes flowers, fruits, and leaves, exact proportions varying with seasons. Fruit is the major food type and may make up almost all of the diet at the end of the dry season, while leaves become important in the rainy season. Crowned lemurs visit water sources during the dry season, even hiking to sources in caves.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Polygamous. Mating, gestation, birth, and development of the young follow the standard Lemuridae pattern. Births begin in mid-September, earlier for crowned lemur females in humid tropical rainforest, later for females in dryer forests.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Vulnerable. Pressure on the species are brought about by deforestation and hunting.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Crowned lemurs are hunted for food and as pests, since they sometimes help themselves to crops. ♦

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