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Social and Individual Behaviors in Captive Greater Galagos

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image of Behaviour

Two groups of wild-born greater galagos were housed in a semi-natural laboratory environment for 20 weeks. The animals are nocturnal and were observed under dim red illumination by means of a low-light TV camera. The behavior of each animal was videotaped for five consecutive minutes three times a week. Then written records were obtained of everything that the animal did or had done to it, moment by moment, as well as the time spent on each activity. Analyses were carried out to determine: which behaviors accounted for the majority of time and frequency scores, how behavior changed over time, and what were the dynamics of within-group interaction. Adult greater galagos were found to have only a limited capacity for establishing social bonds with strangers. Serious fights were infrequent after the first week, but throughout the study animals tended to spend the majority of their waking time away from others, often left immediately when approached, and ignored most solicitations for play and social grooming. In each group, most of the active friendly interactions were between the adult male and one particular female. Interactions between the male and the other female were hostile, while those between the two females were friendly but passive. These results are in keeping with the generally-held view that nocturnal prosimians are relatively unsociable but they are in striking contrast to those of an earlier study (EHRLICH & MUSICANT, 1977) in which a related species, the slow loris, was observed in the identical laboratory environment and was found to be highly sociable. It would seem, then, that a wide range of behavioral variability exists among nocturnal prosimians - even when species are compared that share a common behavioral repertoire.

Affiliations: 1: California State University, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.


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