Abstract # 89:

Scheduled for Sunday, September 20, 2009 09:15 AM-09:25 AM: Session 8 (Shell Room) Oral Presentation


R. Persad-Clem1, M. Dorner2, L. Sarringhaus3, G. Stanley4 and W. C. McGrew5
1Miami University , Department of Zoology, Oxford, OH, USA, 2Department of Anthropology, University of California, San Diego, CA, USA, 3Department of Anthropology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA, 4Department of Anthropology, Miami University, Ohio, USA, 5Leverhulme Centre for Human Evolutionary Studies, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK

We studied the ecological impact of 18 captive chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) before and after release into a 6-acre forest (Habitat) at Chimp Haven Inc., Louisiana. Pre-release in 2005, we permanently tagged all Habitat trees [N=2184] and used line-transects to sample the vegetation strata in the Habitat and a control plot. Pre-release, we presented the group with novel browse taxa [n=8] found in the Habitat and recorded taxon use. Post-release, we followed the chimpanzees’ use of familiar and non-familiar plants in the Habitat. We found that both pre- and post-release they preferred to eat Ulmus and use it in non-consumptive ways, compared to how they used other plant taxa. Females used non-familiar plants [mean=14.7] more than males [mean=6.3; F(6,9)=3.8, p<0.05]. Captive-born chimpanzees (CBC) used fewer familiar plants [mean=14.6] compared to wild-born chimpanzees (WBC) [mean=2.86; F(1,16)=6.9, p< 0.05]. CBC also used fewer non-familiar plants [mean=0.91] compared to WBC [mean=2.3; F(1,16)=7.1, p<0.05]. Based on a 2008 re-sampling of the Habitat and control plot, we found saplings and lianas were greatly impacted by chimpanzee presence in the Habitat, while trees were less damaged. This study shows that some sapling e.g. Ulmus and liana taxa are at risk for extinction in the Habitat, but also provides encouraging evidence that aged, captive chimpanzees of varied life-histories can adapt to existence in a temperate forest.