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Folia Primatol (Basel). 1988;51(1):1-32.

The behavioral repertoire of the black-and-white ruffed lemur, Varecia variegata variegata (Primates: Lemuridae).

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Duke University Primate Center, Durham, N.C.


A stable social group of 7 semifree-ranging black-and-white ruffed lemurs (Varecia variegata variegata) was studied for 4 months to catalog the behavioral repertoire of this species. Observations focussed on particular aspects of behavior were conducted before and after this 4-month period to supplement information gathered. Behavior in 11 major categories is detailed: postures, terrestrial locomotion, arboreal locomotion, feeding behavior, vocalizations, scent-marking, affinitive social behavior, agonistic social behavior, play behavior, sexual behavior, and parental behavior. Ruffed lemurs frequently used body positions and locomotor patterns unusual among lemurids, including bipedal hanging and long-descent leaps. These behaviors reinforce dental evidence that Varecia are among the most frugivorous of the Malagasy lemurs. Low intragroup cohesion, infrequent social interaction, and antiphonal use of several long-distance vocalizations suggest that ruffed lemurs naturally exhibit fission-fusion sociality. Social structure based on interindividual familiarity probably extends across foraging parties for several of the diurnally active lemurs; however, thus far only Varecia seems likely to exhibit fission-fusion sociality analogous to that seen in spider monkeys and chimpanzees.

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