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Habitat Use of Bonobos (Pan paniscus) at Wamba: Selection of Vegetation Types for Ranging, Feeding, and Night-Sleeping


Understanding the habitat requirements of great apes is essential for effective conservation strategies. We examined annual habitat use of a bonobo group in the Wamba field site within the Luo Scientific Reserve, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Using satellite imagery, we categorized the group's ranging area into three forest types: (1) primary and old secondary forest (P/OS), (2) young secondary forest and agriculture (YS/Ag), and (3) swamp forest (Sw). We tracked the group for 1 year (2007–2008) and compared usage of the three forest types for ranging, feeding, and night-sleeping. We also recorded what the bonobos ate and monitored monthly fruit availability in each forest type. The group ranged and fed more often in P/OS and less often in YS/Ag and Sw than expected based on habitat availability. Also, the group slept mostly in P/OS (94% of nights monitored), but also in YS/Ag (1%), and Sw (5%). Fruit availability in P/OS had no significant effect on habitat selection, but the group fed in YS/Ag most often during the two months when fruits in P/OS were least abundant. In June, when fruit of Uapaca spp. (selectively eaten by bonobos) was generally abundant in Sw, the group mostly ranged and slept there. The bonobos fed most often on herbaceous plants in all three forest types. In Sw, the bonobos frequently ate mushrooms. Our results show that semi-open forest with abundant herbaceous plants such as YS/Ag could be an important feeding habitat and may provide fallback food for bonobos when fruits are scarce. Furthermore, Sw can serve seasonally as a main habitat to complement P/OS if adequate food resources and tree nesting opportunities are available. We conclude that bonobos use diverse habitats depending on their needs and we highlight the importance of minor-use habitats for sustaining populations of target species in conservation planning. Am. J. Primatol. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

American Journal of Primatology


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