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Am J Primatol. 2008 Jun;70(6):605-12. doi: 10.1002/ajp.20530.

Ecological context of savanna chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes verus) termite fishing at Fongoli, Senegal.

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Department of Anthropology, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa 50011, USA.


Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) at Fongoli, Senegal, consume termites year-round. Understanding the ecological context behind this behavior is especially important in light of the environmental conditions at Fongoli. This mosaic savanna habitat is one of the hottest and driest sites where chimpanzees have been studied. Two genera and four species of termites were found in association with tools used by chimpanzees in a sample of 124 termite mounds that were monitored. The chimpanzees of Fongoli termite fish predominantly in woodland and forest habitat types, and, although woodland accounts for the majority of the chimpanzees' home range, forest habitat types comprise only about 4% of their range. Thus, habitat type has an influence on the Fongoli chimpanzees' termite fishing. Termite consumption to the degree seen at Fongoli may have particular significance for hominid evolution, given the expansion of Pliocene hominids into increasingly open, hot, and dry habitats.

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