, Volume 23, Issue 2, pp 263-282

Factors Affecting Nesting Site Choice in Chimpanzees at Tshibati, Kahuzi-Biega National Park: Influence of Sympatric Gorillas

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Abstract

We recorded 310 fresh chimpanzee night nests at 72 nest sites to determine their choice of tree and site for nesting vis-à-vis the effects of sympatric gorillas. Chimpanzees did not use trees for nesting according to their abundance, but instead tended to nest in fruit trees that they used as food sources. Nesting patterns of chimpanzees may vary with nesting group size, the type of vegetation, and fruit species eaten or not eaten by gorillas. When chimpanzees lodged as a small group in the secondary forest, they nested more frequently in trees bearing ripe fruits eaten only by themselves than in those with fruit eaten also by gorillas. When they lodged as a large group in the primary forest, they nested more frequently in trees bearing ripe fruits eaten by both apes. Nest group size is positively correlated with the availability of preferred ripe fruits in secondary forest. These findings not only reflect the larger foraging groups at the larger fruiting trees but also suggest that chimpanzees may have tended to occupy fruiting trees effectively by nesting in them and by forming large nest groups when the fruits attracted gorillas. Competition over fruits between gorillas and chimpanzees, due to their low productivity in the montane forest of Kahuzi, may have promoted the chimpanzee tactics.