Seasonal change in terrestriality of chimpanzees in relation to microclimate in the tropical forest

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Abstract

Seasonal change in time spent for terrestrial behavior of chimpanzees was investigated from the viewpoint of the distribution of food and microclimate in the forest at Bossou, Guinea, West Africa. Daily and monthly data for activity budgets of three focal animals, climatic variables in the forest, and indices of fruit availability and distribution of fruit-bearing trees were estimated and analyzed. Mean activity budgets calculated by monthly means were 23.4% for terrestrial behavior (range, 2.9% in August to 42.1% in November) and 76.6% for arboreal behavior. Chimpanzees spent more time on the ground in warm or dry months. Chimpanzees also spent less time in trees in months with high fruit production (trees of diameter at breast height ≥10 cm). The daily percentage of terrestrial behavior showed a positive correlation with maximum temperature and a negative correlation with the minimum humidity of the day. Only maximum temperature of the observation day influenced time spent on the ground significantly, as analyzed by generalized linear models (GLZ), which included all variables (fruit production, distribution of fruit-bearing trees, and climatic variables). It was concluded that the reason why arboreal behavior increased in the rainy season was not owing to the vertical distribution of food, but rather in order to reduce thermoregulation costs by resting in trees during cool periods and taking advantage of the vertical structure of the microclimate in the tropical forest (i.e., higher temperatures in higher positions). Am J Phys Anthropol, 2003. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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