Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 67, Issue 7, pp 1097–1111 | Cite as

Female gregariousness in Western Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) is influenced by resource aggregation and the number of females in estrus

  • Livia WittigerEmail author
  • Christophe Boesch
Original Paper


Among social animals, group size is constrained by competition over resources. Because female reproductive success is limited by access to food resources, and that of males by access to fertile females, chimpanzee females are proposed to be less social than males and to maintain weak intrasexual relations. Findings from Taï National Park, Côte d’Ivoire, challenged this view, as chimpanzee females were described as generally gregarious, and close intrasexual bonds were common. Here, in a new analysis that focuses on the South Group of chimpanzees in Taï forest, we reevaluate the proposed differences in female association patterns between the Taï and East African populations. We find that mean party size and dyadic association index between females has decreased in Taï, although the level of dyadic associations remains high compared with East African chimpanzees. We attribute the decrease in female gregariousness to the decline in community size over the last 10 years. In addition, we use a multivariate approach to analyze social and ecological factors influencing party size in females. We show that female gregariousness increased when the fruit resources were more clumped and with increased number of females in estrus present. Party size of mothers with sons, however, was smaller with increasing number of sexually receptive females. The results of our model and the reviewed findings of other studies support the socioecological model because food distribution affects female gregariousness, but social and demographic aspects are equally influencing female grouping tendencies.


Pan troglodytes verus Females Party size Association patterns Resource aggregation 



We thank the Ministère de la Recherche Scientifique and the Ministère de l’Environnement et des Eaux et Forêts of Côte d’Ivoire, the O.I.P.R. (Office Ivorien des Parcs et Reserves), the Director of the Taï National Park for permission to conduct this research. We are grateful for logistic support through the Centre Suisse de Recherches Scientifiques at Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, and to the Max Planck Society for funding this project. We would like to thank Zoro Goné Bi and Jonas Mompeho Tahou for botanical data collection and Olivier Dehegnan for assistance during behavioral data collection. We are especially grateful to Roger Mundry for continuous statistical advice and to Geraldine Fahy, Thurston Cleveland Hicks, Ammie Kalan, Deborah Moore, Carolyn Rowney Langergraber, and two unknown reviewers for valuable comments on earlier versions of the manuscript.

Ethical Standards

This research complies with the ethical guidelines for research projects of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany and was conducted in accordance with the animal care regulations and national laws of Côte d’Ivoire and Germany.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary AnthropologyLeipzigGermany

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