The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)

The caloric and nutritional yields from insectivory for Kasekela chimpanzees


1Department of Biological Sciences, University of Southern California, 2Department of Conservation Biology, National Zoological Park

Saturday 9:30-9:45, Galleria South Add to calendar

Insectivory is a potentially important source of protein, fat, minerals, and vitamins for chimpanzees. However, data on the intake rates of insect prey and their nutritional content are limited. Drawing on behavioral observations from 2008-2010 and previously reported assays, we provide macronutrient and mineral intake estimates for termite fishing (Macrotermes), ant-dipping (Dorylus) and ant-fishing (Camponotus) sessions by Kasekela chimpanzees.

Insectivory sessions ranged from <1 minute to almost five hours. Estimated caloric intake ranged from <1.0 - 286kcal per session. Fat and protein intake per session ranged from <0.01 - 1.35g and <0.25 - 40.8g, respectively. The estimated mineral intake from brief sessions was negligible, but yields from longer sessions approached or met human RDA requirements for some minerals. Ant-fishing yielded smaller amounts of energy, fat, protein, and minerals than ant-dipping or termite-fishing.

On a gram-to-gram basis, the macronutrient values of Kasekela insect prey are generally comparable to published values for wild mammal meat. Compared to hunting, insectivory provides lower but more predictable yields (at least on a seasonal basis), lower energy expenditure and minimal risk of injury. We conclude that insectivory is a viable (albeit time-consuming) strategy for acquiring fat and minerals in nutritionally significant quantities for Kasekela chimpanzees.

Though Kasekela chimpanzees consume mammalian and insect prey year-round, there is substantial variation in patterns of faunivory within and between wild Pan communities. The nutritional significance of faunivory for Pan is ultimately best evaluated at the individual and community level, and in the context of the broader (and largely frugivorous) diet.

This research was supported by a USC Joint Initiative Merit Fellowship, USC Joint Initiative Merit Fellowship, a USC Gold Family Fellowship, a USC International Summer Field Research Award, and the USC Jane Goodall Center.

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