Insectivory, termite diversity, and tool use of the Fongoli chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus), Senegal, West Africa

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2005-01-01
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Bogart, Stephanie
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Chimpanzees use tools to fish for termites across Africa, but the ecology of this insectivory has been largely ignored. West African chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) at Fongoli, southeastern Senegal, fish for termites year-round, with peaks from April to July and in October. Data were collected on 124 termite mounds including information on nearest neighbor mound, shape, habitat-type, percent cover by woody vegetation, height, width, termite activity, chimpanzee activity, and vegetation. The presence of chimpanzee activity was assessed using ethoarchaeological methods, that is, artifacts and remnants left behind were systematically collected and measured. Tool length and plant source were recorded. Of the mounds used by chimpanzees, 59% were in open woodland. Tools were found at 29 mounds (23%), and 20 revisits also proved positive for tools, for a total of 49 assemblages of tools. A total of 401 fresh and recent (younger than 5 days old) flexible probes were analyzed. Results are compared to other sites. At least six genera of termites occur at Fongoli. Indirect data suggest that the chimpanzees of Fongoli may fish for two of these: Macrotermes and Trinervitermes. Macrotermes subhyalinus and M. bellicosus comprise 75% of the fished mounds. Termite diet may be more diverse for the chimpanzees of Fongoli, given their long fishing season compared to other sites.

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Sat Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2005