Get access

Troop Size and Human-Modified Habitat Affect the Ranging Patterns of a Chacma Baboon Population in the Cape Peninsula, South Africa


  • Contract grant sponsor: Table Mountain Fund (WWF-SA); Contract grant sponsor: Table Mountain National Parks; Contract grant sponsor: National Research Foundation; Contract grant sponsor: Back to Africa.

Correspondence to: Tali S. Hoffman, Zoology Department, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch 7700, South Africa. E-mail:


Differences in group size and habitat use are frequently used to explain the extensive variability in ranging patterns found across the primate order. However, with few exceptions, our understanding of primate ranging patterns stems from studies of single groups and both intra- and inter-specific meta-analyses. Studies with many groups and those that incorporate whole populations are rare but important for testing socioecological theory in primates. We quantify the ranging patterns of nine chacma baboon troops in a single population and use Spearman rank correlations and generalized linear mixed models to analyze the effects of troop size and human-modified habitat (a proxy for good quality habitat) on home range size, density (individuals/km2), and daily path length. Intrapopulation variation in home range sizes (1.5–37.7 km2), densities (1.3–12.1 baboons/km2), and daily path lengths (1.80–6.61 km) was so vast that values were comparable to those of baboons inhabiting the climatic extremes of their current distribution. Both troop size and human-modified habitat had an effect on ranging patterns. Larger troops had larger home ranges and longer daily path lengths, while troops that spent more time in human-modified habitat had shorter daily path lengths. We found no effect of human-modified habitat on home range size or density. These results held when we controlled for the effects of both a single large outlier troop living exclusively in human-modified habitat and baboon monitors on our spatial variables. Our findings confirm the ability of baboons, as behaviorally adaptable dietary generalists, to not only survive but also to thrive in human-modified habitats with adjustments to their ranging patterns in accordance with current theory. Our findings also caution that studies focused on only a small sample of groups within a population of adaptable and generalist primate species may underestimate the variability in their respective localities. Am. J. Primatol. 74:853-863, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.