• Pan troglodytes;
  • sun avoidance;
  • behavioral thermoregulation;
  • feeding;
  • resting


Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) activity budget, terrestriality, and sun exposure were found to be influenced by the immediate environmental temperature. Thirty adult chimpanzees in the Budongo Forest, Uganda, were observed for 247 h. Temperatures in the shade and sun, sky cover, sun exposure, activity, and terrestriality were recorded at 5-min intervals at <15 m from the center of the party. Terrestriality frequency was 26.5% for females and 41.5% for males. Terrestriality and resting both show a significant positive correlation with temperature in the sun. Controlling for seven potential confounding factors, temperature in the sun remained the strongest predictor of terrestriality. The difference between temperatures in the sun and shade had a significant effect on chimpanzee sun exposure frequency. Time spent continuously in the sun was negatively correlated with temperature, beginning to decrease around 30°C, and markedly decreasing around 40°C. A concurrent experiment determined that dark pelage (lacking physiological coping mechanisms) exposed to the same solar regime can easily reach 60°C within minutes. This study indicates that both temperature in the sun and sun exposure play a role in influencing chimpanzee activity behavior, and specifically suggests that chimpanzees thermoregulate behaviorally both by moving to the ground and by decreasing their activity level. These results, in the context of deforestation and increasing global temperatures, have physiological and conservation implications for wild chimpanzees. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2009. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.