Chimpanzee Feeding Behaviour at Caiquene-Cadique in Cantanhez National Park, Guinea-Bissau

Research output: ThesisMaster's Thesis

Abstract

Chimpanzees are our closest living relatives, sharing some behaviours once thought unique to humans. Much is known about chimpanzee behaviour and socio-ecology, but we have a very limited understanding of how they adapt their behaviour to the costs and benefits of inhabiting human-influenced habitats. This dissertation presents the first data on the feeding ecology of the most westerly community of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) studied to date, in the forest-savannah-mangrove-farm mosaic of Caiquene-Cadique, Cantanhez National Park, Guinea-Bissau. The main aim of this research was to better understand temporal variations in chimpanzee feeding behaviour, including identification of food species consumed, and relate it to the seasonal availability of plant foods. A combination of data collection methods were employed during the 9-month field study: indirect recording (faecal samples and feeding traces), direct opportunistic observations of chimpanzees, and phenology quadrats. The Caiquene-Cadique chimpanzees experienced marked seasonal variations in the availability of plant foods, but maintained a high proportion of ripe fruit in the diet across months. In addition to fruits, they also ingest a variety of other plant parts, including leaves, piths, flowers, bark and sap. Chimpanzees at Caiquene-Cadique regularly consumed cultivars, including cashew, mango and orange, which represent 13,4% of all consumed species. Honey is frequently consumed, and was obtained from both natural and man-made beehives. There was no evidence of hunting or meat consumption, even though preferred prey species were available, and evidence for the consumption of social insects, such as termites or ants, was not found. However, there was indirect evidence of possible smashing and consumption of giant African snails (Achatina sp.). An episode of plant food-sharing (Treculia africana) was also recorded, supporting the theory that large, easily divisible plants are more commonly shared among apes than smaller, less easily divisible foods. The clearing of forestland for slash-andburn cultivation is constant, and constitutes a significant threat to survival of this and other chimpanzee communities within the Park. Although ‘conflicts’ over access to space and resources appear uncommon, it is likely they will become more frequent with increasing human populations and encroachment.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationMaster of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Universidade de Coimbra
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Cunha, Eugénia, Supervisor, External person
  • Hockings, Kimberley , Supervisor
Award date18 Jul 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Keywords

  • Pan troglodytes
  • Dieta
  • Partilha de alimentos
  • Destruição de habitat

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