Demographic parameters and life history of chimpanzees at Bossou, Guinea



Demographic parameters of wild chimpanzees at Bossou, Guinea, are presented and compared with those of other populations. The population size of Bossou chimpanzees has been stable over the last 26 years, except during two incidents of partial deforestation. The annual birth rate for a female (mean = 0.194, but 0.165 when the infant survived more than 4 years) and interbirth interval are not much different from those of other study sites. The primiparous age of Bossou chimpanzees, however, is far younger (mean = 10.9 years) than for all other known wild chimpanzee populations. The infant and juvenile survival rate is also the highest (female = 0.64, male = 0.52 for the first 8 years). As a result, the lifetime reproductive success of Bossou chimpanzees is estimated to be highest among long-term study sites. The rate of disappearance from Bossou dramatically increases during the adolescent stage, and most young chimpanzees disappear before or around maturation. Probably because the environmental capacity for chimpanzees at Bossou is at its limit, many young independent males, as well as females, have to disperse, though others may die. For chimpanzee alpha males of other populations, mature males may be needed as collaborators to defend resources. In the case of Bossou, however, a lack of adjacent groups, conspecific competitors, predators, and perhaps medium-sized mammals as prey for group hunting may eliminate this need of the alpha male for other males. The reasons why all males of other chimpanzee populations persist in being philopatric for life and maintain kin-related male bonds differing from most mammal species, including humans, are discussed. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2003. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.