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Keywords:

  • wild chimpanzees;
  • selective ingestion of Albizia zygia gum;
  • intestinal fermentation;
  • mineral supply

Abstract

The selective ingestion of plant gum exudates by chimpanzees has been frequently observed at various study sites. At Bossou, Guinea, chimpanzees also frequently ingest Albizia zygia gum exudate. A functional explanation for this behavior is lacking, so we evaluated its possible contribution of energy in the form of short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) as well as minerals. An in vitro fermentation study of A. zygia gum using the fecal bacteria of a Bossou chimpanzee showed that carboxylic acids were produced with a 6-hr lag phase up to 44 mmol/l by 18 hr of incubation. Acetate was the most abundant acid produced, followed by lactate and propionate. The energy supplied from the fermentation of a piece of gum exudate (20–30 g) was negligible in comparison with the estimated daily energy requirements of chimpanzees in the wild. However, A. zygia gum exudate (20–30 g) can supply sufficient amounts of calcium, manganese, magnesium, and potassium to fulfill the daily requirements for these minerals in chimpanzees. Am. J. Primatol. 68:143–151, 2006. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.