, 52:309 | Cite as

Seed predation by bonobos (Pan paniscus) at Kokolopori, Democratic Republic of the Congo

  • Alexander V. Georgiev
  • Melissa Emery Thompson
  • Albert Lotana Lokasola
  • Richard W. Wrangham
News and Perspectives


We compared the feeding ecology of the Hali–Hali community of bonobos (Pan paniscus) at Kokolopori, a new field site in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, between two periods 5 months apart. During the first study period (SP1), bonobos relied heavily on the dry seeds of Guibourtia (Caesalpiniaceae), mostly eaten from the ground. The second period (SP2) was characterized by high consumption of ripe tree fruit. Terrestrial herbaceous vegetation (THV) contributed little to the diet in either study period. The low amount of ripe fruit and the high reliance on seeds in the diet during SP1 were associated with high cortisol production and low levels of urinary C-peptide in females, suggesting nutritional stress. However, female gregariousness was not constrained during the fruit-poor period, probably because high seed abundance on the ground ameliorated scramble feeding competition. This is the first description of extensive seed predation by bonobos. It suggests that bonobo feeding ecology may be more similar to that of chimpanzees than previously recognized.


Kokolopori Bonobo C-peptide Guibourtia demeusei Seed eating 



We thank Sally Coxe and Michael Hurley from the Bonobo Conservation Initiative (BCI) for the invitation to work at Kokolopori and for their support in the field. Our study was made possible by research permission obtained by the BCI and with the cooperation of Dr. Mwanza Ndunda at the Centre Recherche de Ecologie et Forestrie at Mbandaka. BCI staff in Kinshasa and Mbandka, the late Veronique Lokasola, and her colleagues at Vie Sauvage provided guidance and assistance in the DRC. Barbara McKinder arranged access to and helped track down specimens at the Royal Botanical Gardens Kew. Leonard Nkanga, Antoine Lokondja, Jean Nsala, Jacques Likenge, Antoine Ilanga-Bomanga and Jean-Pierre Likenge assisted in the field. For their help before, during and in-between trips, AG would further like to thank the late B. Carey, D. Carey, M. Reiches, E. Aggianiotakis and M. Lynch. Funding was provided by Harvard University, the Arthur L. Greene Fund, and a Bristol Myers Freedom to Discover Award to B. Hahn at University of Alabama at Birmingham. We also thank Takeshi Furuichi and an anonymous reviewer for their valuable comments on the manuscript. This study complied with the requirements of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University, as well as with relevant legislation of the host country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Japan Monkey Centre and Springer 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexander V. Georgiev
    • 1
  • Melissa Emery Thompson
    • 2
  • Albert Lotana Lokasola
    • 3
  • Richard W. Wrangham
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Human Evolutionary BiologyHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of New MexicoAlbuquerqueUSA
  3. 3.c/o The Bonobo Conservation InitiativeWashingtonUSA

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