Abstract # 1974 Event # 238:

Scheduled for Saturday, August 19, 2006 02:00 PM-02:15 PM: Session 23 (Regency East #2) Oral Presentation


A PRELIMINARY STUDY OF GELADA RANGING PATTERNS AND HABITAT USE IN THE MENZ HIGHLANDS, ETHIOPIA

P. J. Fashing1 and N. Nguyen2
1Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, Department of Science & Conservation, Pittsburgh, PA 15206, USA, 2Princeton University, Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
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     Geladas (Theropithecus gelada) are among the least studied baboons with nearly all of our knowledge of their behavior and ecology in the wild coming from the Simen Mountains, northern Ethiopia. From Dec 2005 – Feb 2006, we conducted a 6-week pilot study of gelada ranging behavior and habitat use at a new location, Guassa, in the Menz Highlands several hundred miles southeast of the Simens. Guassa includes 111 km2 of relatively pristine Afroalpine grassland occurring between 3200-3700 meters elevation, and features a large population of geladas and a relatively intact predator community. We focused our observations on one gelada band of ~225 individuals occupying the east-central portion of Guassa. In addition to habituating band members to within 5-15 m of human observers, we followed the geladas throughout the day from their morning to their evening sleeping cliffs. On 24 days, at 30-minute intervals, we recorded the group’s GPS location and the habitat type they occupied. These data allowed us to calculate the mean (2,904+600SD m) and range (1,587-4,014 m) of the group’s daily path lengths as well as the group’s home range size (95% Minimum convex polygon=3.2 km2; 95% Fixed kernel=3.7 km2) over the study period. We also found that the microhabitat type most often occupied by geladas during our study was Helichrysum-Festuca grassland. We intend for these preliminary results to provide the basis for further more intensive research into the determinants of gelada ranging behavior and habitat use in the Menz Highlands.