Seasonality and Socioecology: The Importance of Variation in Fruit Abundance to Bonobo Sociality

Author: White, F.J.

Source: International Journal of Primatology, Volume 19, Number 6, December 1998 , pp. 1013-1027(15)

Publisher: Springer

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The assumption that nonseasonal, evergreen, rain forests contain more continuously available food resources than seasonal rain forests is fundamental to comparisons made between the socioecology of the male-bonded Pan troglodytes and the female-based social system of the Pan paniscus. Chimpanzee females may be less social due to the high costs of feeding competition, whereas in the more food-rich central African rain forests such as the Lomako forest, female bonobos can associate and socially bond. The Lomako Forest experiences two wet and two dry seasons a year. Data on fruit abundance and sociality show that despite monthly variation in fruit availability, there was no consistent seasonal variation in fruit abundance or dietary breadth. Bonobo use of nonfig fruits, figs, THV, and leaves did not follow seasonal patterns. Leaves and THV may act as complementary sources of plant protein and their use was inversely correlated. Monthly variation in fruit abundance was associated with a significant decrease in the number of males in a party but not in the number of females. Focal males were frequently solitary during 1 of the 3 months with the smallest party sizes. In contrast, females remained social with each other throughout the year. Therefore, seaonality at Lomako appeared to be less marked than at comparable chimpanzee sites, such that the variation in fruit abundance did not fall below a level that prohibits female sociality.

Keywords: Pan paniscus; bonobo; feeding; seasonality; social bonds

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Biological Anthropology and Anatomy, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina 27708

Publication date: December 1, 1998

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