Long-Term Field Studies of Chimpanzees at Mahale Mountains National Park, Tanzania

  • Michio NakamuraEmail author


Chimpanzee research in the Mahale Mountains, on the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika, Tanzania, began in 1965. Although the Mahale Mountains did not initially have official protected status, researchers’ conservation efforts and the financial support of the Japanese government led to the designation of Mahale as a national park in 1985. The Mahale project is the second-longest continuous field study of chimpanzees. Long-term demographic data show that the habituated chimpanzee group has decreased in size, largely due to disease outbreaks. Recent research has focused on variation in the behavioral repertoire of chimpanzees, producing a detailed audio-visual ethogram as well as evidence of social customs, some of which are candidates for cultural variation. Many primatologists are beginning to accept the notion that some behavioral elements of nonhuman animals are socially shaped. Our long-term studies of chimpanzee behavioral variation will hopefully contribute to a better understanding of the ways in which human and nonhuman primate behavior is shaped by the interaction between genes and culture.


Courtship Display Japan International Cooperation Agency Mahale Mountain Female Transfer Sand Flea 
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We would like to thank Peter Kappeler for organizing the symposium “Long-term field studies of primates” held 8–11 December 2009, and for inviting MN to attend. We are also indebted to him and to David Watts for editing the volume and for providing useful comments on our manuscript. We thank the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology, Tanzania National Parks, the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute, Mahale Mountains National Park, and the Mahale Mountains Wildlife Research Centre for permission to conduct research in Mahale. It would not be possible to maintain the field site over decades without the collaboration of many researchers. We would like to thank the following researchers, who have participated in data collection and management of our research camp at Mahale: K Kawanaka, A Mori, S Uehara, J Itani, K Norikoshi, M Hiraiwa-Hasegawa, Y Takahata, T Hasegawa, H Hayaki, H Takasaki, MA Huffman, KD Hunt, T Tsukahara, K Masui, M Hamai, LA Turner, JC Mitani, K Hosaka, A Matsumoto-Oda, H Ihobe, N Itoh, T Sakamaki, N Corp, K Zamma, N Kutsukake, T Matsusaka, JV Wakibara, S Fujita, M Shimada, H Nishie, E Inoue, M Fujimoto, S Hanamura, M Kiyono-Fuse, T Kooriyama, and A Inaba. We also thank E Massawe, H Seki, H Baga, A Mutui, C Mwinuka, and T Clamsen for their logistical support and R Kitopeni, M Hamisi, M Bunengwa, K Athumani, H Bunengwa, H Katinkila, J Hassani, A Ramadhani, M Matumula, S Kabangula, M Mwami, R Hawazi, M Rashidi, B Hamisi, R Nyundo, M Seifu, M Masayuke, and B Athumani for assistance in the field. This study was financially supported by MEXT Grant-in-Aid (KAKENHI) (12375003, 16255007, 19255008 to TN, 19107007 to J Yamagiwa, and 21770262 to MN) and by the ITP-HOPE project of the Kyoto University Primate Research Institute, funded by JSPS.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Wildlife Research CenterKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan

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