The 85th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2016)


The diet of savanna-woodland chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) at Issa, western Tanzania

ALEX K. PIEL1, PAOLO STRAMPELLI2, EMILY GREATHEAD3, R. ADRIANA HERNANDEZ-AGUILAR4, JIM MOORE5 and FIONA A. STEWART6.

1Natural Sciences and Psychology, Liverpool John Moores University, 2Life Sciences, Imperial College London, 3Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge, 4Biosciences, University of Oslo, 5Anthropology, University of California, San Diego, 6Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge

April 14, 2016 9:30, A 706/707 Add to calendar

Our knowledge of the present is a key element to understanding the past. Improvements in our comparative diet data of extant primates, for example, directly inform our predictions about the diet of extinct, morphologically derived hominins. However, most studies that have described chimpanzee diet stem from forest-dwelling communities, whilst fewer describe what chimpanzees living in mosaic habitats – that more closely resemble those of Plio-Pleistocene hominins – consume. We present here data on the diet of an unhabituated community of savanna-woodland chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) from the Issa Valley, western Tanzania. We investigated intra-annual patterns of dominant plant species consumption and the relationship with plant species distribution, availability, and density over four years. Based on macroscopic faecal analysis and direct observations, we found Issa chimpanzees to consume a minimum of 69 plant species. We found minimal evidence that Issa chimpanzees consumed vertebrate prey, in line with most other open habitat populations. Given that chimpanzee dietary diversity and seasonal variation of consumed foods is a direct result of habitat quality and heterogeneity, we conclude by contextualising these findings to those of other medium-long term studies of chimpanzees, and also by discussing what our results may suggest about fossil hominin exploitation of mosaic landscapes.

We thank the Carnegie Trust, L.S.B. Leakey, National Science, and Wenner Gren Foundations, Ruggles Gates Fund for Biological Anthropology, and the UCSD/Salk Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny (CARTA).