Cheirogaleus Mediusa Primate With An Exceptional Life History

C. medius are small-bodied (130 g; Fietz, 1999a) nocturnal lemurs that live in small family groups consisting of the reproducing male-female pair and the offspring from one or more breeding seasons (Fietz, 1999a; Müller, 1999). Males and females live in lifelong pair bonds and usually separate only when one partner dies. Even though yearlings or older offspring may remain in their family group when new offspring is born, they do not help raising their kin. Members of one family inhabit a common territory of 1-2 ha, and use the same tree holes as sleeping sites (Fietz, 1999a; Fietz et al., 2000). Territories are defended and olfactorily marked by the adult male-female pair, especially along the territory borders (Müller, 1998; Fietz, 1999a,b; Wiedemann, unpublished data). Depending on climatic conditions, adults mate during November or December (Hladik et al., 1980; Fietz, 1999a) and females give birth to one or two infants after a gestation period of 61-64 days (Figure 2). Remarkably, both sexes take extensive care of their offspring (Fietz, 1999a; Fietz et al., 2000). During the first 2 weeks after birth, infants remain in the nest holes, and parents take turns caring for them. As soon as infants start to leave their nest holes, either the male or the female accompanies them on their excursions (Fietz, 1999a). The participation of males seems to be crucial for the survival of the newborns, as females without paternal help were not able to raise their offspring successfully and infants died shortly after birth. Surprisingly, especially in view of the high investment of infant care by males in this species, genetic parentage analyses revealed an extraordinarily high incidence (44%) of extra-pair young (Fietz et al., 2000).

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