Abstract # 7900 Event # 209:

Scheduled for Monday, August 28, 2017 12:30 PM-12:45 PM: (Grand Ballroom) Oral Presentation


CAUSES OF INFANT MORTALITY AND MATERNAL RESPONSES TO INFANT DEATH IN WILD CHIMPANZEES (PAN TROGLODYTES)

E. Lonsdorf1, C. M. Murray2, M. L. Wilson3, K. K. Walker4, E. Boehm4 and A. E. Pusey4
1Franklin and Marshall College, PO Box 3003, Lancaster, PA 17601, USA, 2The George Washington University, 3University of Minnesota, 4Duke University
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     Chimpanzee mothers have been reported to show a diversity of responses to the death of their infant, which raises questions about what they understand about death. To examine variation in maternal responses to death, we used the largest known dataset of wild chimpanzee infant mortality at Gombe National Park. Out of 87 infants (< 5 years of age) observed between 1964 and 2016, 31 disappeared and cause of death could not be confirmed. In the 56 remaining cases, causes of infant mortality were: infanticide (29%), illness (20%), lack of appropriate maternal care (13%), being orphaned (13%), injury (5%), and poaching (2%). In 5 cases infants were dead upon first observation, and in another 6 cases, infant death was observed but the cause of death was unknown. For 36 cases, the mothers’ response to infant death was observable and ranged from participating in consumption of the corpse after infanticide to carrying the corpse for over two weeks. Here we explore potential sources of variation in maternal responses, as well as how maternal behavior changed over time in those cases wherein extended interaction with the corpse occurred. These data will provide valuable insight into what chimpanzees may understand about mortality.