Influence of human disturbance on Western Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes verus) nesting behavior in a savanna mosaic habitat, southeastern Senegal
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The human population continues to grow worldwide at an alarming rate, and, with this growth, comes expansion into new areas. These expansions can come with actions, like logging, mining, and agriculture that are harmful to the environment and the species inhabiting it. The critically endangered West African chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) is one primate species affected by such human actions. In the Kedougou region of southeastern Senegal, artisanal small-scale gold mining has become a way of life and has accelerated rapidly in the last few years. I conducted research at the Bantan site, which is located a few kilometers south of a large village and artisanal gold mine, Bantako. I was able to use indirect methods to collect data about the nesting habits of an unhabituated community of chimpanzees. I recorded data for each nesting tree, the GPS location, age of the nest, and I recorded the relative availability of each tree species and size to determine if the chimpanzees show preference when nesting. I compared the locations of the nests I found to those from previous years to determine if nesting locations have changed and also compared them to locations of disturbances. There were over 750 recorded disturbances in the range, with over 80% of those being direct environmental damage.The Bantan chimpanzees show a preference for nesting in the genus Pterocarpus, despite the fact that the genus Combretum is the most available. Distribution maps show a general westward movement in nesting locations over the years.