Development and behavior of wild infant-juvenile East Bornean orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus morio) in Danum Valley

An Erratum to this article was published on 06 January 2017

Abstract

Orangutans have a long period of immaturity and the longest inter-birth interval (IBI) of all mammals, which can explained by their solitary life style, preventing the mother from rearing two offspring simultaneously (solitary life hypothesis). We collected data on mother-offspring dyads living in a primary lowland forest in Danum Valley, East Borneo in an effort to examine the developmental and behavioral patterns of the subspecies Pongo pygmaeus morio. We analyzed developmental changes in mother-offspring distance, contact, and activity budgets in orangutans ranging from 1 to 7 years of age. The results indicated decreased resting and playing with increasing age, whereas feeding, traveling and social play all increased significantly. Mothers’ feeding and traveling time were good predictors of their offspring’s feeding and traveling activities. Mother-offspring contact lasted longer in resting contexts; contact during traveling was almost non-existent after 4 years of age. Comparisons with previously published data on the Sumatran species Pongo abelli revealed no fundamental differences in these behavioral measures. However, a shorter association time with the mother after behavioral independence is documented for this East Bornean population in comparison to Sumatran populations. These results are best explained by the solitary life hypothesis, in agreement with previous studies. We suggest that environmental constraints in Bornean forests, as well as a lower population density, should be considered when interpreting the differences between Sumatran and Bornean orangutans in both the period of association with mother and the IBI.

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Acknowledgments

We would like to thank to our local collaborator Mr Peter Malim, as well as the Sabah Biodiversity Centre and Danum Valley Management Committee for granting permission to conduct the research. We are also grateful to research assistants Eddy Boy, Poleh Bin Inging and Kirmizi Bin Rosliu for their help during the fieldwork, and to the staff of Borneo Rainforest Lodge for assistance provided during our stay there. Furthermore, we would like to thank Dr Fred Bercovitch, Dr Mike Huffman, Dr Anne Russon and anonymous reviewers for valuable comments on the manuscript. Our study was supported by a Grant-in-Aid for Specially Promoted Research from the Ministry of Education, Science, Sports and Culture, Japan (no. 24000001) to T. M.; a scholarship to R. S. M. (ITP-HOPE project; ITP-25-016), a Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Research Fellowship for Young Scientists to N. K.; T. K. was financially supported by Mitsui.

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Correspondence to Renata S. Mendonça.

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An erratum to this article is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10329-016-0595-2.

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Mendonça, R.S., Kanamori, T., Kuze, N. et al. Development and behavior of wild infant-juvenile East Bornean orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus morio) in Danum Valley. Primates 58, 211–224 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10329-016-0567-6

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Keywords

  • Mother-offspring
  • Activity budget
  • Independence
  • Population density
  • Habitat saturation
  • Inter-birth interval