The Lemurs of Kirindy
Peter Kappeler’s article entitled, “The Lemurs of Kirindy,” brought into focus the different behaviors adapted by and that has evolved among the mammals in the Kirindy Forest in the west-central coast of Madagascar. Of particular interest in the article were the lemurs of Kirindy, which Kappeler described to have evolved and changed their behaviors in order to adapt to the changing seasons and climates of the forest.
This paper looks into the process of natural selection among the mammals of Kirindy.
The discussion and analysis provided herein posits that natural selection favored the most unusual primate behaviors among lemurs. More specifically, the position assumed in this discussion asserts that because of the constantly changing physical/natural environment of the forest, lemurs have adapted and underwent the process of evolving biologically, as their response to the natural changes occurring in their physical environment—completing the process of natural selection.
The “pronounced seasonal changes” in the Kirindy forest was described as a combination of either very hot or cold climates, erratically changing each season. On December to February, the forest does not experience rain, wherein nights reach above freezing point. In addition to these drastic changes in temperature, primate behaviors also vary during long dry spells or months of continuous rains. Behaviors of lemurs affected not only include hibernation periods, circadian rhythms, or food hunting patterns, but also reproduction cycles and mating behavior. Ultimately, the erratic changes in climate in Kirindy influence the survival techniques of lemurs.
Indeed, these seasonal changes have affected the circadian rhythms, mating behaviors, and food hunting techniques of the lemurs of Kirindy. Sifakas are known to adapt a “calorie-saving” behavior by “expending less energy” through a decrease in their physical activities and expose themselves to heat as much as possible. Moreover, sifakas eat plants that have high liquid content, further supporting its survival techniques in order to survive the cold season. Sifakas’ mating behaviors, meanwhile, have also been inadvertently affected by the seasonal changes in the forest. Female sifakas give birth during the cold season, and learn to support their young by hunting for plants or leaves with high liquid content and adapting a calorie-saving lifestyle.
Fat-tailed lemurs, meanwhile, have also learned to adapt to new behavior in order to survive the cold season in the forest. The rainy season is a time when fat-tailed lemurs store fat as their food supply for their hibernation period. They do this by eating high-energy fruits and insects, converting these foods into fat, which is then stored in their tails. After the rainy season, fat-tailed lemurs get ready for the dry season by hibernating in hollow trees.
The sifakas and fat-tailed lemurs are just examples of mammals that have learned to adapt to the environment’s drastic changes, particularly in the Kirindy forest of Madagascar. Variations and changes in lemur behavior demonstrated that the process of natural selection took place in the forest, wherein the uncontrollable physical conditions that the lemurs lived in led to an alteration of their lifestyles, and ultimately, biological tendencies and reactions to the environment (i.e., Kirindy forest).