Chimpanzees as fauna: Comparisons of sympatric large mammals across long-term study sites

Samantha M. Russak, W. C. McGrew

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8 Citations (Scopus)


Although much research has shown otherwise, chimpanzees are still often classed as rainforest-dwellers. Most long-term studies of wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) are not situated in evergreen, closed-canopy equatorial forests, but instead are conducted in more open habitats. This study aims to elucidate the extent of chimpanzee ecological diversity by scrutinizing (recently) sympatric mammalian fauna at established study sites. We compiled presence or absence data on large mammal species at eight sites: Assirik, Bossou, Budongo, Gombe, Kibale, Lopé, Mahale, and Tai. The sites were rank ordered on the most basic ecological variable: annual total rainfall. Only three of the 65 mammalian genera compiled were sympatric with chimpanzees at all sites: Potamochoerus (bushpig), Syncerus (buffalo), and Panthera pardus (leopard). Some subfamilies (e.g. colobines) were present at most sites, but some families (e.g. hyenids) were absent at most sites. Some taxa (e.g. suids, cercopithecines) correlated better than others (e.g. canids) with basic ecological variables. The most extreme chimpanzee study site for which data are available is Assirik, Senegal. Nowhere else are chimpanzees sympatric with Erythrocebus, Alcelaphus, Hippotragus, and Ourebia. As chimpanzees are often behavioral models for extinct hominins, these living faunal assemblages have implications for paleo-ecological reconstructions of ancestral habitats.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)402-409
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Primatology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2008


  • Biogeography
  • Chimpanzee ecology
  • Faunal assemblage
  • Pan troglodytes


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