The ranging behavior of bonobos in the Lomako Forest
Waller, Michel Tyler, 1973-
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Waller, Michel Tyler, 1973-
The ranging behavior of an animal can reveal much about the social and ecological conditions it faces. Food availability, feeding competition, population pressures, metabolic requirements and human influences can all influence the ranging behavior of individuals. For modern humans, the manner in which we move about our world is limited only by access to technology and other cultural factors. Of course, it has not always been that way. Based on recent fossil discoveries, our earliest bipedal ancestors more closely resembled the living great apes in morphology. Consequently, studies of great ape behavior have been used to reconstruct scenarios of early hominin behavior. And while much has been written about chimpanzee ( Pan troglodytes ) ranging in this regard, less is known about bonobos (Pan paniscus ). Along with chimpanzees, bonobos are our closest phylogenetic relative, existing today as a descendant of a common ancestor the Homo and Pan genera shared sometime around six million years ago. Despite their close taxonomic relationship, however, there are a variety of behavioral differences between bonobos and chimpanzees. The aim of this dissertation is to better understand these differences within the context of ranging and social behavior and apply the results to models of early hominin behavior. More specifically, I used a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) approach to examine general bonobo ranging data, the differences in ranging behavior between males and females, and the manner in which neighboring groups interact. Compared with chimpanzees, bonobos at Lomako range over a much smaller total area, are not territorial, and differ in the composition of social parties. In general, female bonobos are more gregarious and cohesive, moving in semi-stable groups I call "cliques", while males are less aggressive and more likely to move independently. These results likely reflect the high levels of food availability for bonobos at Lomako, reducing the level of feeding competition, and emphasizing social and mating strategies in group formation. Consequently, the spectrum of potential early hominin ranging behavior must be expanded from the current chimp-centric perspective.
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