Found only on the island of Madagascar, Hapalemur aureus is patchily distributed through small rain forest areas in the southeast. (Meier et. al., 1987)
Hapalemur aureus is found only in rain forest. Distribution of these animals is closely linked with bamboo (Glander, et. al, 1989).
About the size of a domesticated cat, H. aureus has a total body length of around 800 mm, the tail comprising half of this. Individuals weigh between 1.2 and 1.6 kg. The soft fur is of moderate length and the muzzle is short. The head is globose and ears are short and hairy but not tufted. The face is black with golden-yellow eyebrows, cheeks and throat. Underparts are yellow, although dorsally there are grey-brown guardhairs with underfur of pale orange. There is no obvious sexual dichromatism, although females tend to be more greyish dorsally.
(Meier et. al., 1987; Harcourt, 1990)
These animals appear to live in small family groups with a single adult male and one or two adult females. This indicates that H. aureus breeds either monogamously or polygynously. (Nowak, 1999)
The only observed breeding of this species was that of the pair taken into captivity at Parc Tsimbazaza in 1987, which has sucessfully bred four times, with three of the young surviving.
Hapalemur griseus gives birth to one or two young in October to February. As the gestation period of this species is 135 to 150 days in length, we may assume that mating occurs from May through September. In captivity, a newborn of this species weighed 32 g. It was initially carried ventrally by the mother, but later rode on her back. Weaning in H. griseus occurs around 20 weeks of age.
Parental behaviors have not been reported for these lemurs. It is likely that the bulk of care for young is provided by the mother, who grooms, protects, and feeds her young.
Data on the longevity of H. aureus are not available. However, another member of the genus, H. griseus is reported to have lived longer than 17 years in captivity. Hapalemur aureus is probably similarly long-lived.
Hapalemur aureus has been seen in groups of 2 to 4 individuals. The group studied at Ranomafana consisting of an adult male, adult female, a smaller subadult and a large juvenile. These lemurs have an easily recognisable contact call, which is a hard grunt. Mainly arboreal, they are also at home on the ground and appear to have territories of 80 ha. Hapalemur aureus is active in the early morning and evening and is probably also active for part of the night.
(Meier et. al., 1987; Harcourt, 1990)
These animals appear to maintain home ranges of about 80 hectares.
Hapalemur aureus is social, and like other primates has complicated forms of communication. Scent marking apparently occurs, based on morphological study of scent glands on wrists, indicating that these animals use chemical communication. They also communicate with vocalizations and visual signals, such as facial expressions and body postures. Finally, tactile communication (grooming, playing, aggression) is likely to be important to these animals as well.
An herbivore, H. aureus feeds almost exclusively on plants from the family Gramineae, primarily on endemic giant bamboo, Cephalostachium viguieri, but also on bamboo creeper and bamboo grass. These lemurs eat the shoots, leaf bases, pith and viny parts of these bamboos.
Chemical analysis has shown that the soft stalks and growing tips that Hapalemur prefers, which are ignored by the other lemurs, are very high in protein as well as cyanide. Golden bamboo lemurs eat about 500 g of bamboo each day, which contains 12 times the amount of cyanide lethal to most animals.
(Meier et. al., 1987; Glander et. al., 1989)
Predation on these animals has not been reported. However, likely predators include humans, fossas, and raptors.
The ecosystem roles of these animals are not well understood. As herbivores, they may impact the plant community. As potential prey items, these lemurs may help to structure local food webs.
These lemurs are of great interest to the scientific community.
Hapalemur aureus has no known adverse effects on humans.
This extremely rare species is thought to have a total population of only 200 to 400 individuals. All populations are highly endangered by habitat destruction, particularly from slash and burn agriculture and timber exploitation, and may well become extinct. Listed in Appendix A of CITES, Class A of the African Convention and protected by Malagasy law, golden bamboo lemurs and their products are subject to strict regulation. This species may not be hunted, killed or captured, but it is difficult to enforce this protection.
(Meier et. al., 1987; Harcourt, 1990)
Hapalemur aureus was discovered in 1985 and described in 1987. It exists in sympatry with Hapalemur griseus and Prolemur simus. Further research of this species is much needed. (Meier, et. al., 1987) (Glander, et. al., 1989)
Nancy Shefferly (editor), Animal Diversity Web.
Erin Gallay (author), 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
active at dawn and dusk
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.
union of egg and spermatozoan
an animal that mainly eats leaves.
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 one mate at a time.
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.
having more than one female as a mate at one time
rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.
communicates by producing scents from special gland(s) and placing them on a surface whether others can smell or taste them
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.
Glander, K.E., Wright, P.C., Seigler, D.S., Randrianasolo, V. and Randriansolo, B. (1989). Consumption of cyanogenic bamboo by a newly discovered species of bamboo lemur. American Journal of Primatology 19: 119-124.
Harcourt, C. (1990). Lemurs of Madagascar and the Comoros. IUNC, Galnd, Switzerland
Meier, B., Albibnac, R., Peyrieras, A., Rumpler, Y. and Wright, P. (1987). A new species of Hapalemur (Primates) from South East Madagascar. Folia Primatologica 48: 211-215.
Nowak, R. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World, Sixth Edition. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press.