Lisa Gould

Lisa Gould
Professor Emeritus



PhD Washington University, St. Louis

Area of expertise

Primate ecology, lemurs, conservation, Madagascar

I have been conducting research on ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta) behavior and ecology in Madagascar since 1987. My research has focused on a number of themes: ecology, socio-ecology, behavioral endocrinology, demography and conservation of Endangered Lemur catta (the ring-tailed lemur). This primate is an ecologically flexible, female-dominant species, which lives in mixed-sex groups and inhabits gallery, xerophytic, scrub and spiny desert forests, high-altitude ericoid bush, and rocky outcrop fragments in southern, south-central and southwestern Madagascar. Because of their marked ecological plasticity (found in seven distinct habitat types), much of this research relates to evolutionary adaptations to natural habitats, as well as recent adaptations to anthropogenically-disturbed environments. 

Specific projects that I have conducted on ring-tailed lemurs over the years include: infant development and alloparenting, male sociality, sex differences in anti-predator behavior, demography and life-history, population responses to natural disasters, behavioral endocrinology (mating and post-mating stress and sex hormones and correlations with aggressive behavior in adult males, pregnancy and lactation hormones and aggression in reproductive females), feeding and nutritional ecology, and effects of fragmentation on isolated populations. I've worked with L. catta populations in gallery forests, spiny desert, and rupicolous rocky outcrop forest fragments.

These projects have been funded by Conservation International, NSERC, National Geographic Society, Wenner-Gren Foundation, and NSF.

In the past few years, I have also been active in conservation efforts related to L. catta populations. Once thought to be numerous throughout their geographic range, in 2012 I compiled data from a number of sites where L. catta are/were known, and determined that, in fact, most populations are very small  (<200), isolated, and are at great risk of local population extinction. These data helped to boost the IUCN conservation status of this species two categories from 'Near Threatened' to 'Endangered'. It is likely that many populations will go extinct within the next decade, due to recent illegal logging and overhunting for the illegal bushmeat trade. I am a member of the IUCN Madagascar Primate Species Survival Plan committee as well as a member of the Interational Primatological Society's Conservation committee. I've also been engaged in community-level conservation projects in the south-central highlands of Madagascar.

Over the years, my graduate students (both masters and Ph.D.) have studied ring-tailed lemurs, Verreaux's sifaka, Indri, Diademed sifaka, and Japanese macaques. They have based their thesis/dissertation topics on a wide-range of topics, e.g. social and ecological adaptations, behavioral endocrinology, nutritional and feeding ecology, anti-predator behavior, parasitology, and population genetics.


  • Primate ecology
  • Lemurs
  • Conservation
  • Madagascar

Selected publications


  • 2015. Sauther, Cuozzo, F., Nekaris, K.I.A., Gould, L., and O'Mara, M.T. (editors). Ring-tailed lemurs: A species re-imagined. Folia Primatologica special issue Vol, 86, Issues 1&2.

  • 2006 - (L. Gould and M.L. Sauther, eds,) Lemurs: Ecology and Adaptation New York : Springer.

Articles and chapters

  • 2015 - Gould, L., Kelley, E.A., LaFleur, M. Reproductive female feeding strategies in spiny forest-dwelling Lemur catta in southern and southwestern Madagascar: How do females meet the challenges of reproduction in this harsh habitat?  Folia Primatologica special issue- 'Lemur catta: A species re-imagined'.Folia Primatologica 86:16-24.
  • 2015 - Clarke, T.A., Gray, O., Gould, L. and Burrell, A.S. Genetic diversity of the ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta) in south-central Madagascar. Folia Primatologica 86:76-84.
  • 2015 Parga, J.A., Sauther, M.L., Cuozzo, F.P., Youssouf, J., Gould, L., Sussman, R.W.,   Lawler, R.R. and Pastorini, J. Genetic evidence for male and female dispersal in wild Lemur catta. Folia Primatologica 86: 66-75.
  • 2015 - Gould, L. and Gabriel, D.N. Wet and dry season diets of the Endangered Lemur catta (ring-tailed lemur) in two mountainous rocky outcrop forest fragments in south-central Madagascar. African Journal of Ecology. 53:320-330.
  • 2014 - Gabriel, D.N., Gould, L. and Kelley, E.A.  Seasonal patterns of male affiliation in ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta) in diverse habitats across southern Madagascar. Behaviour 151: 935–961.
  • 2013 - Gould, L. & Gabriel, D.N.  Lemur Conservation Success Stories: Anja Community Reserve and the Association Anja Miray. In: Lemurs of Madagascar: A strategy for their conservation 2013-2016 (Eds. C. Schwitzer, R.A. Mittermeier, N. Davies, S. Johnson, S, J. Ratsimbazafy, J. Razafindramanana, E.E. Louis, and S. Rajaobelina). IUCN Species Survival Plan, Bristol Conservation and Science Foundation, and Conservation International, Bristol UK.
  • 2013 - Cameron, A. and Gould, L.  Fragment adaptive behavioral strategies and inter-site variation in the ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta) at Anja Special Reserve and the Tsaranoro Valley, south-central Madagascar. In: Primates in Fragments, 2nd Ed. (L. Marsh and C. Chapman, eds) NY: Springer:pp. 227-243.
  • 2012 - Sussman, RW, Richard, AF, Ratsirarson, J, Sauther, S. Brockman, D., Gould, L. Lawler, R. and Cuozzo, F.  Beza Mahafaly Special Reserve: Long-Term Research on Lemurs in Southwestern  Madagascar. In: Long-term field studies of primates (P. Kappeler, D. Watts, eds). NY: Springer pp. 45-66.
  • 2011 - Gould, L., Power, M., Ellwanger, N., Rambeloarivony, H. Feeding behavior and nutrient intake in spiny forest-dwelling ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta) during early gestation and early to mid-lactation periods: Compensating in a harsh environment. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 145:469-479.
  • 2011 - Ellwanger, N. and Gould, L. Variations in behavioural patterns between Lemur catta groups living in different forest types: implications for conservation. Endangered Species Research 14: 259–270.
  • 2011 - Gould L, Sauther ML, Cameron A. The Lemuriformes In: Primates in Perspective, 2nd Edition. (C. Campbell, A. Fuentes, K. MacKinnon, M. Bearder, S., Stumpf, R. eds. Oxford Univ Press: pp. 55-79.
  • 2009 - (L. Gould, P. Constabel, R. Mellway, and H. Rambeloarivony) Condensed Tannin Intake in Spiny-Forest-Dwelling Lemur catta at Berenty Reserve, Madagascar, during Reproductive Periods. Folia Primatologica 80:249-263.
  • 2009 - (M. LaFleur & L. Gould) Feeding Outside the Forest: The Importance of Crop Raiding and an Invasive Weed in the Diet of Gallery Forest Ring-Tailed Lemurs ( Lemur catta) Following a Cyclone at the Beza Mahafaly Special Reserve, Madagascar. Folia Primatologica 80:233–246
  • 2008 - (A. Gemmill & L. Gould) Microhabitat Variation and Its Effects on Dietary Composition and Intragroup Feeding Interactions Between Adult Female Lemur catta During the Dry Season at Beza Mahafaly Special Reserve, Southwestern Madagascar . International Journal of Primatology 29:1511–1533.
  • 2007 - (F. Cuozzo, M. L. Sauther, N. Yamashita, R. Lawler, D. Brockman, L. Godfrey, L. Gould, Lent, J. Ratsirarson, A. F. Richard, R. W. Sussman, G. A. Willis) A Comparison of Salivary pH in Sympatric Wild Lemurs ( Lemur catta and Propithecus verreauxi ) at Beza Mahafaly Special Reserve, Madagascar. American Journal of Primatology 70:1-9.
  • 2007 - (L. Gould & T. E. Ziegler) Variation in Fecal Testosterone Levels, Inter-Male Aggression, Dominance Rank and Age during Mating and Post-Mating Periods in Wild Adult Male Ring-Tailed Lemurs ( Lemur catta ). American Journal of Primatology 69:1-15.
  • 2007 - (L. Gould, & M.L. Sauther) The Lemuriformes In: Primates in Perspective . C. Campbell, A. Fuentes, K. MacKinnon, M. Panger, S. Bearder, eds. Oxford Univ Press: pp. 46-72.
  • 2006 - (L. Gould) Lemur catta ecology: What we know and what we need to know. In Lemurs: Ecology and Adaptation (L. Gould and M.L. Sauther, eds) New York : Springer pp. 255-274.
  • 2006 - (L. Gould ) Male sociality and integration during the dispersal process in Lemur catta : a case study. In: Ringtailed Lemur Biology: Lemur catta in Madagascar . (A. Jolly R.W. Sussman, N.Koyama, H. Rasamimanana eds) New York : Springer. pp.296-310.
  • 2006 - (L. Gould, M.L. Sauther) Anti-predator strategies in a diurnal prosimian, the ring-tailed lemur ( Lemur catta ), at the Beza Mahafaly Special Reserve, Madagascar . In: (S.L. Gursky, K.A.I.Nekaris, eds) Primate Anti-Predator Strategies. New York : Springer. pp. 275-288.
  • 2005 - (L. Gould, T. E. Ziegler & D. J. Wittwer) Effects of Reproductive and Social Variables on Fecal Glucocorticoid Levels in a Sample of Adult Male Ringtailed Lemurs ( Lemur catta ) at the Beza Mahafaly Reserve , Madagascar . American Journal of Primatology 67:5-23.
  • 2005 - (S. E. Turner, L. Gould & D. Duffus) Maternal Behavior and Infant Congenital Limb Malformation in a Free-Ranging Group of Macaca fuscata on Awaji Island , Japan . International Journal of Primatology 12: 1435- 1457.