Date of Award
Master of Science
Chimpanzees differentially utilize their environment for different activities. This study examines the use of habitat by western chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) living in a savanna mosaic environment at Fongoli, Senegal through both behavioral observation and examination of nesting ecology via a comprehensive survey of nest sites. Specific questions addressed with reference to habitat use and nesting ecology include those of safety, resource defense and acquisition, and comfort. Habitat availability was determined by transect sampling. Habitat use was explored on multiple scales, including levels of habitat type, area features, and, with regard to nesting ecology, tree features. On a coarse scale, chimpanzees most preferred gallery forest for both daily activity and nesting. Woodland was also selectively utilized in both cases, while plateau was avoided. Evidence supports the selective utilization of areas with higher than average canopy cover and stem density for nesting. The availability of resources, both food and water, also influenced the location of nesting sites. The same general areas within the core range were often exploited repeatedly for nesting, but whether this is related to resource availability, habitat structure, or other factors has yet to be determined. On a finer scale, the chimpanzees selected nesting trees that were taller than average, had taller than average crowns, and had larger stem diameters than the average trees at Fongoli. They also preferred certain tree species for nesting, namely Cola cordifolia (taba) and Pterocarpus erinaceus (keno). It appears that resource location and safety considerations influence habitat selection on a coarse scale, while finer scale decisions (e.g., nest height, tree species) with regard to habitat use may be based more on comfort. Social factors also likely play a role in both coarse and fine scale habitat selection. The implications of conclusions about habitat use by savanna chimpanzees can contribute to models of habitat use by Plio-Pleistocene hominids; nesting ecology is specifically pertinent with regards to hominid sleeping sites and activities such as carcass processing that require similar attributes, such as safety and resources. Lastly, this multi-scale investigation into habitat use has direct relevance to chimpanzee conservation.
Andrea Jo Socha
Socha, Andrea Jo, "Habitat use and nesting ecology of savanna chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) in southeastern Senegal" (2006). Retrospective Theses and Dissertations. 19054.