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Keywords:

  • primate locomotion;
  • forest structure;
  • suspension;
  • orthograde

Abstract

This study examined the locomotor behavior of wild Bornean orangutans (P. p. wurmbii) in an area of disturbed peat swamp forest (Sabangau Catchment, Indonesia) in relation to the height in the canopy, age-sex class, behavior (feeding or traveling), and the number of supports used to bear body mass. Backward elimination log-linear modeling was employed to expose the main influences on orangutan locomotion. Our results showed that the most important distinctions with regard to locomotion were between suspensory and compressive, or, orthograde (vertical trunk) and pronograde (horizontal trunk) behavior. Whether orangutans were traveling or feeding had the most important influence on locomotion whereby compressive locomotion had a strong association with feeding, suspensory locomotion had a strong association with travel in the peripheral strata using multiple supports, whereas vertical climb/descent and oscillation showed a strong association with travel on single supports in the core stratum. In contrast to theoretical predictions on positional behavior and body size, age-sex category had a limited influence on locomotion. The study revealed that torso orthograde suspension dominates orangutan locomotion, concurring with previous studies in dipterocarp forest. But, orangutans in the Sabangau exhibited substantially higher frequencies of oscillatory locomotion than observed at other sites, suggesting this behavior confers particular benefits for traversing the highly compliant arboreal environment typical of disturbed peat swamp forest. In addition, torso pronograde suspensory locomotion was observed at much lower levels than in the Sumatran species. Together these results highlight the necessity for further examination of differences between species, which control for habitat. Am J Phys Anthropol 145:348–359, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.