Chimpanzee insectivory in the northern half of Uganda’s Rift Valley: do Bulindi chimpanzees conform to a regional pattern?

Abstract

Insects are a nutritious food source for many primates. In chimpanzees, insectivory is most prevalent among communities that manufacture tools to harvest social insects, particularly ants and termites. In contrast to other long-term study sites, chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) in Budongo Forest and Kibale National Park, Uganda, rarely eat insects and have small foraging tool kits, supporting speculation that infrequent insectivory—technically aided or otherwise—characterises chimpanzees in this part of Uganda’s Rift Valley. To expand the dataset for this region, insect foraging was investigated at Bulindi (25 km from Budongo) over 19 months during two studies in 2007–2008 and 2012–2013. Systematic faecal analysis demonstrated that insectivory is a habitual foraging activity at this site. Overall levels of insect consumption varied considerably across months but were not predicted by monthly changes in rainfall or fruit intake. Unlike their Budongo and Kibale counterparts, Bulindi chimpanzees often consume ants (principally weaver ants, Oecophylla longinoda) and use sticks to dig out stingless bee (Meliponini) ground nests. In other respects, however, insectivory at Bulindi conforms to the pattern observed elsewhere in this region: they do not manufacture ‘fishing’ or ‘dipping’ tools to harvest termites and aggressive or hard-to-access ants (e.g., army ants, Dorylus spp.), despite availability of suitable prey. The Bulindi data lend support to the supposition that chimpanzees in this part of the Rift Valley rarely exploit termites and Dorylus ants, apparently lacking the ‘cultural knowledge’ that would enable them to do so most efficiently (i.e., tool use). The study’s findings contribute to current debates about the relative influence of genetics, environment and culture in shaping regional and local variability in Pan foraging ecology.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1

References

  1. Bogart SL, Pruetz JD (2011) Insectivory of savanna chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) at Fongoli, Senegal. Am J Phys Anthropol 145:11–20

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Brewer SM, McGrew WC (1990) Chimpanzee use of a tool set to get honey. Folia Primatol 54:100–104

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Deblauwe I (2009) Temporal variation in insect-eating by chimpanzees and gorillas in southeast Cameroon: extension of niche differentiation. Int J Primatol 30:229–252

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Deblauwe I, Janssens GP (2008) New insights in insect prey choice by chimpanzees and gorillas in southeast Cameroon: the role of nutritional value. Am J Phys Anthropol 135:42–55

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Field A (2009) Discovering statistics using SPSS. Sage, London

    Google Scholar 

  6. Gruber T, Muller MN, Reynolds V, Wrangham R, Zuberbühler K (2011) Community-specific evaluation of tool affordances in wild chimpanzees. Sci Rep 1:128

    PubMed Central  PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. Gruber T, Potts KB, Krupenye C, Byrne MR, Mackworth-Young C, McGrew WC, Reynolds V, Zuberbühler K (2012) The influence of ecology on chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) cultural behavior: a case study of five Ugandan chimpanzee communities. J Comp Psychol 126:446–457

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Hashimoto C, Furuichi T, Tashiro Y (2000) Ant dipping and meat eating by wild chimpanzees in the Kalinzu Forest, Uganda. Primates 41:103–108

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Hedges S, McGrew WC (2012) Ecological aspects of chimpanzee insectivory in the Budongo Forest, Uganda. Pan Afr News 19:6–7

    Google Scholar 

  10. Humle T, Matsuzawa T (2002) Ant-dipping among the chimpanzees of Bossou, Guinea, and some comparisons with other sites. Am J Primatol 58:133–148

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Hunt KD, McGrew WC (2002) Chimpanzees in the dry habitats of Assirik, Senegal and Semliki Wildlife Reserve, Uganda. In: Boesch C, Hohmann G, Marchant LF (eds) Behavioural diversity in chimpanzees and bonobos. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 35–51

    Google Scholar 

  12. Kajobe R, Roubik DW (2006) Honey-making bee colony abundance and predation by apes and humans in a Uganda forest reserve. Biotropica 38:210–218

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Kamilar JM, Marshack JL (2012) Does geography or ecology best explain ‘cultural’ variation among chimpanzee communities? J Hum Evol 62:256–260

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Koops K, McGrew WC, Matsuzawa T (2013) Ecology of culture: do environmental factors influence foraging tool use in wild chimpanzees, Pan troglodytes verus? Anim Behav 85:175–185

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. McGrew WC (1974) Tool use by wild chimpanzees in feeding upon driver ants. J Hum Evol 3:501–508

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. McGrew WC (1983) Animal foods in the diets of wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes): why cross-cultural variation? J Ethol 1:46–61

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. McGrew WC (1992) Chimpanzee material culture: implications for human evolution. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  18. McGrew WC, Tutin CEG, Baldwin PJ (1979) Chimpanzees, tools, and termites: cross-cultural comparisons of Senegal, Tanzania, and Rio Muni. Man 14:185–214

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. McGrew WC, Marchant LF, Phillips CA (2009) Standardised protocol for primate faecal analysis. Primates 50:363–366

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  20. McLennan MR (2008) Beleaguered chimpanzees in the agricultural district of Hoima, western Uganda. Primate Conserv 23:45–54

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. McLennan MR (2010) Chimpanzee ecology and interactions with people in an unprotected human-dominated landscape at Bulindi, western Uganda. PhD dissertation, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford

  22. McLennan MR (2011a) Tool-use to obtain honey by chimpanzees at Bulindi: new record from Uganda. Primates 52:315–322

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  23. McLennan MR (2011b) Preliminary observations of hand-clasp grooming by chimpanzees at Bulindi, Uganda. Pan Afr News 18:18–20

    Google Scholar 

  24. McLennan MR (2013) Diet and feeding ecology of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) in Bulindi, Uganda: foraging strategies at the forest–farm interface. Int J Primatol 34:585–614

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. McLennan MR, Plumptre AJ (2012) Protected apes, unprotected forest: composition, structure and diversity of riverine forest fragments and their conservation value in Uganda. Trop Conserv Sci 5:79–103

    Google Scholar 

  26. Nishie H (2011) Natural history of Camponotus ant-fishing by the M group chimpanzees at the Mahale Mountains National Park, Tanzania. Primates 52:329–342

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  27. O’Malley RC, Power ML (2012) Nutritional composition of actual and potential insect prey for the Kasekela chimpanzees of Gombe National Park, Tanzania. Am J Phys Anthropol 149:493–503

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Pascual-Garrido A, Umaru B, Allon O, Sommer V (2013) Apes finding ants: predator–prey dynamics in a chimpanzee habitat in Nigeria. Am J Primatol 75:1231–1244

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  29. Raubenheimer D, Rothman JM (2013) Nutritional ecology of entomophagy in humans and other primates. Annu Rev Entomol 58:141–160

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  30. Reynolds V (2005) The chimpanzees of the Budongo Forest: ecology, behaviour, and conservation. Oxford University Press, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  31. Sanz CM, Morgan DB (2011) Elemental variation in the termite fishing of wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). Biol Lett 7:634–637

    PubMed Central  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Schöning C, Ellis D, Fowler A, Sommer V (2007) Army ant prey availability and consumption by chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes vellerosus) at Gashaka (Nigeria). J Zool 271:125–133

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Schöning C, Humle T, Möbius Y, McGrew WC (2008) The nature of culture: technological variation in chimpanzee predation on army ants revisited. J Hum Evol 55:48–59

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Sherrow HM (2005) Tool use in insect foraging by the chimpanzees of Ngogo, Kibale National Park, Uganda. Am J Primatol 65:377–383

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Stanford CB, Gambaneza C, Nkurunungi JB, Goldsmith ML (2000) Chimpanzees in Bwindi-Impenetrable National Park, Uganda, use different tools to obtain different types of honey. Primates 41:337–341

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Tutin CEG, Fernandez M (1992) Insect-eating by sympatric lowland gorillas (Gorilla g. gorilla) and chimpanzees (Pan t. troglodytes) in the Lopé Reserve, Gabon. Am J Primatol 28:29–40

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Watts DP (2008) Tool use by chimpanzees at Ngogo, Kibale National Park, Uganda. Int J Primatol 29:83–94

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Watts DP, Potts KB, Lwanga JS, Mitani JC (2012) Diet of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) at Ngogo, Kibale National Park, Uganda, 1. Diet composition and diversity. Am J Primatol 74:114–129

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Webster TH, McGrew WC, Marchant LF, Payne CLR, Hunt KD (2012) ‘The other faunivory’ at Semliki, Uganda: is there evidence for a ‘savanna chimpanzee’ pattern of insectivory? Am J Phys Anthropol 147:299

    Google Scholar 

  40. Yamagiwa J, Basabose AK (2009) Fallback foods and dietary partitioning among Pan and Gorilla. Am J Phys Anthropol 140:739–750

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

Permission to conduct this research was granted by the President’s Office, the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology, and the Uganda Wildlife Authority. Thanks to Gerald Mayanda, Tom Sabiiti, Moses Ssemahunge and the late Dan Balemesa for assistance with data collection. Insects were identified by Allan Lugoloobi (National Agricultural Research Organisation, Kampala), Barry Bolton and David Notton (Natural History Museum, London). Meteorological records were provided by the Bulindi Agricultural Research and Development Centre. Research funding was provided by the Economic and Social Research Council, the National Environment Research Council, the Leverhulme Trust (Ref: F/00 382/F), and Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (Ref: PTDC/CS-ANT/121124/2010). Thibaud Gruber and an anonymous reviewer gave helpful comments on the draft manuscript.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Matthew R. McLennan.

About this article

Cite this article

McLennan, M.R. Chimpanzee insectivory in the northern half of Uganda’s Rift Valley: do Bulindi chimpanzees conform to a regional pattern?. Primates 55, 173–178 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10329-014-0408-4

Download citation

Keywords

  • Ants
  • Bees
  • Geographic variation
  • Insect foraging
  • Pan troglodytes
  • Seasonality
  • Tool use