Crowned lemurs, Eulemur coronatus, are found exclusively in the north of Madagascar. More specifically, their range stretches from the northern most point of Cap d'Ambre to the Fanambana River in the south of this region. This species extends westward as far as the town of Ambilobe on the Sambirano River, and its range hugs the coastline on the east.
Crowned lemurs are found in the dry forests of of Cap d'Ambre and Sakalava. They are also found on the slopes of Mt. d'Ambre but their densities decrease at higher elevations. This is possibly due to the increase in humidity at these elevations. In the forests of Ankarana, these lemurs are found more frequently in the canopy forest as opposed to the edges or degraded forest areas.
Crowned lemurs average about the size of a small house cat. The head and body length is approximately 34 cm; tail length is 45 cm; cranial length is 8 cm; and ear length is 4 cm. This species is named because of the characteristic crown shaped hair coloration on the top of heads. This patch of hair is usually orange. Other color patterns in the pelage reflect slight sexual dimorphism, with males having brown gray bodies, dark tails, gray faces, and black noses, and females having a distinctly lighter coloration with white bellies.
The lower 6 incisors and canines form a dental comb, which is typical for all lemurs.
Also typical of all lemurs is the long tail, which is used for balance. This tail is not prehensile. In both males and females, the tail darkens distally.
Crowned lemurs are polygynous, but with little intrasexual selection among males. It has been suggested that this, along with the absence of a male size advantage, has facilitated the evolution of the pattern of female dominance that is observed in these lemurs.
Gestation length is roughly 125 days. Matings occur in late May and June, resulting in births between mid September and October. Earlier births coincide with the first rainfalls. Early births also tend to occur in nutritionally richer, wetter areas. Conversely, later births seem to occur in drier forests where fruit availability is low. Single infants and twins appear to be equally common.
Nursing continues until 5 to 6 months of age. Sexual maturity in crowned lemurs is reached at approximately 20 months.
Infants ride on their mothers' bellies for the first 3 weeks, shifting to nurse and sometimes moving to the back later on. Females nurse their young until they are 5 to 6 months old. The role of males in parental care has not been documented.
Members of this genus are repored to reach up to 36 years of age in captivity. Lifespan in the wild is likely to be lower. Eulemur coronatus is probably like other members in the genus in regard to lifespan.
These mostly diurnal primates tend to be social, living in groups raning in size from 5 to 15 individuals, with an average group size is 5 or 6. These groups usually contain several adults of both sexes. It has been suggested that group size decreases in more humid environments, such as Mt. d'Ambre at the upper northern tip of Madagascar.
Foraging often takes place within subgroups of the larger group, and special vocalizations may be used to maintain contact between different subgroups. Interactions between larger groups are rare.
Females in the group are dominant over males, giving them advantages in food selection and choice of mates. Grooming other group members is important in the development and maintenance of social bonds. This is true for all prosimians.
Crowned lemurs are active from sunrise to sunset, but they will often take a noon break that can last up to four hours. Groups travel after nightfall.
Home range size for this species has not been reported.
As in other primates, communication in this species is complex. It involes chemical elements, in the form of scent marking, as well as visual elements, in the form of body postures and facial expressions. In additon to these forms of communication, this species uses grooming (a tactile form of communication) to maintain and establish social bonds. like other lemurs, these animals also use vocalizations to communicate with one another.
The major component of the diet of crowned lemurs diet seems to be fruits. Although these animals spend most of their time in levels of the forest above the ground, they do descend to pick up fallen fruit. During the wet season, crowned lemurs occationally eat leaves as well.
During the dry season, crowned lemurs search out waterholes, often found deep inside caves, for water. Occasionally, flowers, pollen, and insects are also eaten.
Predators of these lemurs have not been reported. However, it seems likely that avian predators such as raptors, and terrestrial predators like fossas, are the principle predators on these animals.
The role of these aminals within their ecosystem has not been studied in depth. As frugivores, Eulemur coronatus may be important in seed dispersal. As nectivores, these primates may aid in plant pollination. To the extent that these animals fall prey to other mammals and birds, E. coronatus may influence local food webs.
On Madagascar, crowned lemurs are often taken in as house pets. They may also be hunted for meat. Beyond this, ecotourism with the intent of veiwing such charismatic creatures may help the human economy of Madagascar.
Because of their relatively small population sizes and their general lack of contact with humans, crowned lemurs have very little negative impact on people, economically or otherwise.
Habitat distruction is the major threat facing crowned lemurs. These lemurs tend to stay within the boundries of four reserves: the Forest d'Ambre, the Montagne d'Ambre National Park, and the Analamera and Ankarana special reserves. These areas, which at one time formed a stable band of forest within which crowned lemur populations could travel, have become isolated patches due to logging, burning, and grazing. Also, poaching of these lemurs for food is increasing. They are listed as a priority in terms of IUCN's conservation concern taxa. Today, conservation measures aim toward better management of these four reserves and educating local communites.
The fossil record of lemurs dates back to the Eocene. Until recently, crowned lemurs were considered a subspecies of Lemur mongoz (now known as Euleum mongoz) but today, they are recognized as distinct species living in distinct, unshared regions.
It is important to remember that crowned lemurs, like all other lemurs, are found only on Madagascar, and therefore offer us a unique opportunity to investigate the role of a specific and isolated environment on the evolutionary and biological traits of a group of animals.
Nancy Shefferly (editor), Animal Diversity Web.
Maureen Suter (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Phil Myers (editor), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
living in sub-Saharan Africa (south of 30 degrees north) and Madagascar.
uses sound to communicate
young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.
Referring to an animal that lives in trees; tree-climbing.
having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
ranking system or pecking order among members of a long-term social group, where dominance status affects access to resources or mates
humans benefit economically by promoting tourism that focuses on the appreciation of natural areas or animals. Ecotourism implies that there are existing programs that profit from the appreciation of natural areas or animals.
animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.
A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.
forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.
an animal that mainly eats fruit
An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.
animals that live only on an island or set of islands.
offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
the business of buying and selling animals for people to keep in their homes as pets.
having more than one female as a mate at one time
communicates by producing scents from special gland(s) and placing them on a surface whether others can smell or taste them
scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.
breeding is confined to a particular season
remains in the same area
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
associates with others of its species; forms social groups.
uses touch to communicate
Living on the ground.
defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement
the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.
uses sight to communicate
reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.
unknown. "Crowned Lemurs" (On-line). Duke University Primate Center. Accessed Saturday, October 9, 1999 at http://primatecenter.duke.edu/animals/crowned/.
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Kappeler, P., J. Ganzhorn. 1993. Lemur Social Systems and Their Ecological Basis. New York: Plenum Press.
Mittermeier, R., W. Konstant, M. Nicoll, O. Langrand. 1992. Lemurs of Madagascar: An Action Plan for their Conservation 1993-1999. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN.
Nowak, R. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World, Sixth Edition. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press.