Habitat and Ecology
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 1996Lower Risk/least concern(Baillie and Groombridge 1996)
- 1994Rare(Groombridge 1994)
- 1990Rare(IUCN 1990)
- 1990Rare(IUCN 1990)
The white-headed lemur (Eulemur albifrons), also known as the white-headed brown lemur, white-fronted brown lemur, or white-fronted lemur, is a species of primate in the Lemuridae family. It is only found in north-eastern Madagascar. It is arboreal and are usually found in rainforest tree tops.
The white-headed lemur is a medium-sized lemur and has a horizontal posture, which is suited to its way of movement. It has a long furry tail assisting it in maintaining its balance as it lands from leaping at a considerable distance. Males have gray-brown upper parts, with darker lower limbs and tail, paler gray upper parts, gray head and face and a darker crown. Females have redder-brown upper parts, paler underparts and darker feet than males. The cheeks and beards are white, bushy and pronounced in males, reddish-brown and less bushy in females. The head, face and muzzle of the female are dark gray, but without the bushy cheeks of the male. The white-headed lemur has an average body weight of 2.3 kg, and body length of 40 cm, and its tail can grow up to 50 cm.
It is likely that, as with other lemurs in the genus family, the maximum lifespan in the wild ranges between 20 and 25 years. In captivity it can live up to 36 years.
The species was previously classified as Eulemur fulvus albifrons, a subspecies of the common brown lemur, and although very similar in appearance genetic analysis supports distinct species status.
Habitat and range
This lemur is mostly found in moist lowland and montane rainforests. The white-headed lemur is arboreal and spends most of its time in the upper layers of the forest. It is only found in north-eastern Madagascar.
Behaviour and mating
This species is cathemeral, meaning it is active at varying times throughout the day and night. It has an omnivorous diet consisting of fruit, mature leaves, flowers, bark, sap, soil, insects, centipedes and millipedes.
The mating system of this lemur has not been reported. However, other species in the genus Eulemur are either monogamous or polygynous. It is likely that the white-headed lemur is similar. For the first three weeks of its life, a young lemur hangs onto its mother's belly, altering its grasp only to nurse. After three weeks have passed, it shifts and rides on the mother's back. It then starts to take its first steps. Following this, it starts to sample solid food, nibbling on whatever the other members of the group happen to be eating. This is its first sign of independence. Nursing continues but its importance in the infant's diet tapers. The young lemur is weaned after approximately 4 to 6 months - usually by January.
Unlike other members of the genus, females are not usually dominant to males, so the degree to which females exert active mate choice is not known. It forms multi-male multi-female groups. Depending on the population, the size of these groups can vary, possibly including up to 40 individuals.
- Groves, C. P. (2005). Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M, eds. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 114. OCLC 62265494. ISBN 0-801-88221-4.
- Andrainarivo, C., Andriaholinirina, V. N., Feistner, A., Felix, T., Ganzhorn, J., Garbutt, N., Golden, C., Konstant, B., Louis Jr., E., Meyers, D., Mittermeier, R. A., Perieras, A., Princee, F., Rabarivola, J. C., Rakotosamimanana, B., Rasamimanana, H., Ratsimbazafy, J., Raveloarinoro, G., Razafimanantsoa, A., Rumpler, Y., Schwitzer, C., Thalmann, U., Wilmé, L. & Wright, P. (2008). Eulemur albifrons. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 7 October 2008.