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Chimpanzee interactions with nonhuman species in an anthropogenic habitat

Kimberley J. Hockings, Tatyana Humle, Susana Carvalho, Tetsuro Matsuzawa

Behaviour, , doi: 10.1163/156853912X636735


Interactions between wildlife species are numerous and diverse, ranging from commensalism to predation. Information on cross-species interactions in anthropogenic habitats are rare but can serve to improve our understanding of animal behavioural and ecological flexibility in response to human-induced changes. Here we report direct observations of interactions between chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) and wild and domesticated species in a forest-farm mosaic at Bossou, Guinea, recorded between 1997 and 2009. The low diversity and abundance of wildlife, in particular typical chimpanzee prey species, are reflected in both the low interaction rates (one interaction per 400 observation hours) and the low number of species with which chimpanzees interacted (nine species, mostly mammals, but also birds and reptiles). Chimpanzees generally chose either to make direct physical contact with a species or not; interactions that involved direct contact lasted longer than noncontacts. Interactions with mammals showed the greatest diversity in nature and duration. Adults most often consumed a captured animal, while immatures most often engaged in playful behaviours with other species. Immatures also exhibited distinctive accompanying behaviours whereas adults rarely did so. Species-specific behaviours that depend on the age-class of the interactant are consistent with the idea that chimpanzees categorise different animals. We anticipate that chimpanzee interactions with sympatric species inhabiting humanised habitats will change over time to include more domesticated species. Conservation management strategies should anticipate behavioural flexibility in response to changing landscapes.


anthropogenic habitat, cross-species interactions, chimpanzee, Pan troglodytes, play, hunt

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