Concept: Gray Mouse Lemur
BACKGROUND: Kin selection is a driving force in the evolution of mammalian social complexity. Recognition of paternal kin using vocalizations occurs in taxa with cohesive, complex social groups. This is the first investigation of paternal kin recognition via vocalizations in a small-brained, solitary foraging mammal, the grey mouse lemur (Microcebus murinus), a frequent model for ancestral primates. We analyzed the high frequency/ultrasonic male advertisement (courtship) call and alarm call. RESULTS: Multi-parametric analyses of the calls' acoustic parameters and discriminant function analyses showed that advertisement calls, but not alarm calls, contain patrilineal signatures. Playback experiments controlling for familiarity showed that females paid more attention to advertisement calls from unrelated males than from their fathers. Reactions to alarm calls from unrelated males and fathers did not differ. CONCLUSIONS: 1) Findings provide the first evidence of paternal kin recognition via vocalizations in a small-brained, solitarily foraging mammal. 2) High predation, small body size, and dispersed social systems may select for acoustic paternal kin recognition in the high frequency/ultrasonic ranges, thus limiting risks of inbreeding and eavesdropping by predators or conspecific competitors. 3) Paternal kin recognition via vocalizations in mammals is not dependent upon a large brain and high social complexity, but may already have been an integral part of the dispersed social networks from which more complex, kin-based sociality emerged.
BACKGROUND: Hematologic and biochemical data are needed to characterize the health status of animal populations over time to determine the habitat quality and captivity conditions. Blood components and the chemical entities that they transport change predominantly with sex and age. The aim of this study was to utilize blood chemistry monitoring to establish the reference levels in a small prosimian primate, the Grey Mouse Lemur (Microcebus murinus). METHOD: In the captive colony, mouse lemurs may live 10-12 years, and three age groups for both males and females were studied: young (1-3 years), middle-aged (4-5 years) and old (6-10 years). Blood biochemical markers were measured using the VetScan Comprehensive Diagnostic Profile. Because many life history traits of this primate are highly dependent on the photoperiod (body mass and reproduction), the effect of season was also assessed. RESULTS: The main effect of age was observed in blood markers of renal functions such as creatinine, which was higher among females. Additionally, blood urea nitrogen significantly increased with age and is potentially linked to chronic renal insufficiency, which has been described in captive mouse lemurs. The results demonstrated significant effects related to season, especially in blood protein levels and glucose rates; these effects were observed regardless of gender or age and were likely due to seasonal variations in food intake, which is very marked in this species. CONCLUSION: These results were highly similar with those obtained in other primate species and can serve as references for future research of the Grey Mouse Lemur.
Glucocorticoid hormones are known to play a key role in mediating a cascade of physiological responses to social and ecological stressors and can therefore influence animals' behaviour and ultimately fitness. Yet, how glucocorticoid levels are associated with reproductive success or survival in a natural setting has received little empirical attention so far. Here, we examined links between survival and levels of glucocorticoid in a small, short-lived primate, the grey mouse lemur (Microcebus murinus), using for the first time an indicator of long-term stress load (hair cortisol concentration). Using a capture-mark-recapture modelling approach, we assessed the effect of stress on survival in a broad context (semi-annual rates), but also under a specific period of high energetic demands during the reproductive season. We further assessed the power of other commonly used health indicators (body condition and parasitism) in predicting survival outcomes relative to the effect of long-term stress.
The de novo assembly of repeat-rich mammalian genomes using only high-throughput short read sequencing data typically results in highly fragmented genome assemblies that limit downstream applications. Here, we present an iterative approach to hybrid de novo genome assembly that incorporates datasets stemming from multiple genomic technologies and methods. We used this approach to improve the gray mouse lemur (Microcebus murinus) genome from early draft status to a near chromosome-scale assembly.
Among anthropogenic pressures, light pollution altering light/dark cycles and changing the nocturnal component of the environment constitutes a threat for biodiversity. Light pollution is widely spread across the world and continuously growing. However, despite the efforts realized to describe and understand the effects of artificial lighting on fauna, few studies have documented its consequences on biological rhythms, behavioral and physiological functions in nocturnal mammals. To determine the impacts of light pollution on nocturnal mammals an experimental study was conducted on a nocturnal primate, the grey mouse lemur Microcebus murinus. Male mouse lemurs (N = 8) were exposed 14 nights to moonlight treatment and then exposed 14 nights to light pollution treatment. For both treatments, chronobiological parameters related to locomotor activity and core temperature were recorded using telemetric transmitters. In addition, at the end of each treatment, the 14(th) night, nocturnal and feeding behaviors were explored using an infrared camera. Finally, throughout the study, body mass and daily caloric food intake were recorded. For the first time in a nocturnal primate, light pollution was demonstrated to modify daily rhythms of locomotor activity and core temperature especially through phase delays and increases in core temperature. Moreover, nocturnal activity and feeding behaviors patterns were modified negatively. This study suggests that light pollution induces daily desynchronization of biological rhythms and could lead to seasonal desynchronization with potential deleterious consequences for animals in terms of adaptation and anticipation of environmental changes.
Increasingly, individual variation in personality has become a focus of behavioral research in animal systems. Boldness and shyness, often quantified as the tendency to explore novel situations, are seen as personality traits important to the fitness landscape of individuals. Here we tested for individual differences within and across contexts in behavioral responses of captive mouse lemurs (Microcebus murinus) to novel objects, novel foods, and handling. We report consistent differences in behavioral responses for objects and handling. We also found that the responses to handling and novel objects were correlated and repeatable. Lastly, we show that shyer individuals may show less variability in their behavioral responses. This study provides new information on the potential for behavioral syndromes in this species and highlights differences in the degree to which behavioral types (e.g., shy/bold) vary in their behavioral responses.
Age-associated cognitive impairment is a major health and social issue because of increasing aged population. Cognitive decline is not homogeneous in humans and the determinants leading to differences between subjects are not fully understood. In middle-aged healthy humans, fasting blood glucose levels in the upper normal range are associated with memory impairment and cerebral atrophy. Due to a close evolutional similarity to Man, non-human primates may be useful to investigate the relationships between glucose homeostasis, cognitive deficits and structural brain alterations. In the grey mouse lemur, Microcebus murinus, spatial memory deficits have been associated with age and cerebral atrophy but the origin of these alterations have not been clearly identified. Herein, we showed that, on 28 female grey mouse lemurs (age range 2.4-6.1 years-old), age correlated with impaired fasting blood glucose (rs=0.37) but not with impaired glucose tolerance or insulin resistance. In middle-aged animals (4.1-6.1 years-old), fasting blood glucose was inversely and closely linked with spatial memory performance (rs=0.56) and hippocampus (rs=-0.62) or septum (rs=-0.55) volumes. These findings corroborate observations in humans and further support the grey mouse lemur as a natural model to unravel mechanisms which link impaired glucose homeostasis, brain atrophy and cognitive processes.
The development of novel therapeutics to prevent cognitive decline of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is facing paramount difficulties since the translational efficacy of rodent models did not resulted in better clinical results. Currently approved treatments, including the acetylcholinesterase inhibitor donepezil (DON) and the N-methyl-D-aspartate antagonist memantine (MEM) provide marginal therapeutic benefits to AD patients. There is an urgent need to develop a predictive animal model that is phylogenetically proximal to humans to achieve better translation. The non-human primate grey mouse lemur (Microcebus murinus) is increasingly used in aging research, but there is no published results related to the impact of known pharmacological treatments on age-related cognitive impairment observed in this primate. In the present study we investigated the effects of DON and MEM on sleep-deprivation (SD)-induced memory impairment in young and aged male mouse lemurs. In particular, spatial memory impairment was evaluated using a circular platform task after 8 h of total SD. Acute single doses of DON or MEM (0.1 and 1mg/kg) or vehicle were administered intraperitoneally 3 h before the cognitive task during the SD procedure. Results indicated that both doses of DON were able to prevent the SD-induced deficits in retrieval of spatial memory as compared to vehicle-treated animals, both in young and aged animals Likewise, MEM show a similar profile at 1 mg/kg but not at 0.1mg/kg. Taken together, these results indicate that two widely used drugs for mitigating cognitive deficits in AD were partially effective in sleep deprived mouse lemurs, which further support the translational potential of this animal model. Our findings demonstrate the utility of this primate model for further testing cognitive enhancing drugs in development for AD or other neuropsychiatric conditions.
Listeriosis is a zoonotic infection with the gram positive, facultative intracellular bacterium Listeria (L.) monocytogenes. Infections mainly occur in ruminants, but also in other species, including humans. Case fatality rate usually is high. The incidence of listeriosis in captive non-human primates is very low. We report the first spontaneous, fatal, and likely food-born outbreak of listeriosis in a population of captive grey mouse lemurs (Microcebus murinus). Conspicuously, none of the closely related Goodman’s mouse lemurs (Microcebus lehilahytsara) in the same facility were affected.
The small-bodied mouse lemurs of Madagascar (Microcebus) are capable of heterothermy (i.e., torpor or hibernation). The expression of these energy-saving strategies has been physiologically demonstrated in three species: M. berthae, the pygmy mouse lemur (daily torpor), M. murinus, the gray mouse lemur (daily torpor and hibernation), and M. griseorufus, the reddish-gray mouse lemur (daily, prolonged torpor and hibernation). Additional evidence, based on radiotracking and seasonal body mass changes, indicated that mouse lemur capabilities for heterothermy extended to M. lehilahytsara, the Goodman’s mouse lemur. In this study, we confirm the use of hibernation in Goodman’s mouse lemurs at a new location, a high-plateau forest fragment in Ankafobe, central Madagascar. Our evidence is based on sleeping site monitoring of radiocollared individuals and the retrieval of three mouse lemurs from inside a tree hole, all of which displayed a lethargic state. Though our data are preliminary and scant, we show that hibernation occurs in high-plateau mouse lemurs, and suggest that a buffered environment (i.e., tree holes instead of nests) may be crucial to avoiding potentially extreme ambient temperatures.