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Benefits and costs of group-sleeping in Microcebus murinus: sleeping site ecology and parasitism

Mosna M. (2017) Benefits and costs of group-sleeping in Microcebus murinus: sleeping site ecology and parasitism. Research Project 1 (minor thesis), Ecology and Evolution.

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The transition from a solitary to a group life-style is one of the major transitions in evolution. Group-living individuals might benefit from a better access to resources, such as food or sleeping site, a reduced predation risk and cooperative breeding. However, they also face costs associated to sociality such as a higher risk of parasite transmission. In this study we compared the sleeping site ecology and the level of parasitism between group-sleeping and solitary females in gray mouse lemurs (Microcebus murinus) to investigate whether group-sleeping females benefit from better quality sleeping site and harbor more parasites than solitary females. We equipped 31 females with a radiocollar during two field seasons in Kirindy forest (Madagascar) allowing the localization of their sleeping sites, the recording of the sleeping sites’ characteristics and the determination of the sleeping condition, i.e. solitary or group-sleeping, of the females. Moreover, we counted ectoparasites and collected and analysed fecal samples from these females. Several differences in the characteristics and usage pattern of the sleeping sites between group-sleeping and solitary females were found. Group-sleeping females slept on average in tree holes located higher above the ground and in larger and more often living trees, which should provide a better thermoregulation and protection against predators. These results suggest that there may be competition over sleeping and that group-sleeping females used higher quality sleeping sites compared to solitary females. However, while group-sleeping females did not harbor more parasites than solitary ones, we found that group size was positively correlated with parasitism within groups: larger groups harbored more ticks and more gastro-intestinal parasite species than small groups. Our results suggest that group-sleeping provided a benefit in term of higher quality sleeping sites but that large group may suffer from a parasites cost associated to sociality.

Item Type: Thesis (Research Project 1 (minor thesis))
Degree programme: Ecology and Evolution
Thesis type: Research Project 1 (minor thesis)
Language: English
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2018 08:27
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2018 08:27

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