Conspecific influences on vigilance behavior in wild chimpanzees

  • Kutsukake N
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Diurnal primates rely on visual monitoring behavior to collect various kinds of ecological and social information. Vigilance behavior is monitoring specifically to detect external threats. Previous studies of vigilance behavior were focused mainly on the influence of predation threats, whereas the influences of conspecific factors, such as intragroup threats, have been relatively unstudied. Individual vigilance is predicted to be inversely related to the group size or the number of individuals nearby if the main target of the vigilance is a predation threat and positively related if the main target of the vigilance is a conspecific threat. I studied wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) in Mahale Mountains National Park, Tanzania, and measured the vigilance duration when they are resting on the ground via 2-min focal observation. In both males and females, vigilance duration increased as the number of individuals nearby increased. This result agrees with the idea that the chimpanzees are vigilant toward other group members. In addition, maternal vigilance monitors and protects the safety of dependent offspring as the duration of maternal vigilance was longer when a dependent infant was separated from its mother than when the offspring was in contact with its mother. The results indicate that the vigilance behavior in wild chimpanzees was affected by conspecific factors.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Chimpanzee
  • Conspecific monitoring
  • Group size effect
  • Predation
  • Vigilance

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  • Nobuyuki Kutsukake

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