, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 475-485

Nesting Behavior of Chimpanzees: Implications for Censuses

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Abstract

Chimpanzees have been censused using nest counting techniques since the mid 1970s. The use of nest counts makes several assumptions which have never been tested: (a) that the visibility of nests does not change with the height of the nest in the canopy; (b) that weaned chimpanzees construct on average one nest per day; (c) that establishing census lines has no effect on the nesting behavior of the chimpanzees; and (d) that the presence of snare injuries, common in forests in eastern Africa, does not affect nest construction. Tests of these assumptions in the Budongo Forest in Uganda showed that visibility of nests at different heights in the canopy is not different from the true distribution of nests but that the other assumptions are false. Minimizing human use could limit the effects of line transects on censuses, but the other two assumptions need to be corrected for.