Friday, November 4, 2016

A new chimpanzee behavioural variant! Algae fishing in Bakoun, Guinea

We began the Pan African Programme: the Cultured Chimpanzee (PanAf) in the hopes of discovering new chimpanzee cultures and cultural variants in previously poorly- and unstudied populations. Earlier this year we documented the occurrence of a new behaviour, chimpanzee accumulative stone throwingpresent in four populations in West Africa. Today we are happy to announce the publication of our new study reporting on an new behavioural variant of algae fishing by chimpanzees in Guinea!

We describe the first camera trap footage of algae fishing behaviour at a PanAf temporary research site in Bakoun, Guinea where the tool-use appears quite different from what is known from a nearby long-term chimpanzee site at Bossou, Guinea and also differs from previous reports of rare algae scooping in Congo

All age and sex classes of Bakoun chimpanzees were observed to successfully fish for algae in a river, stream or pond using woody branches or twigs as fishing rods. The tools were on average longer and sturdier than the algae fishing tools described at Bossou. 

The freshwater green algae being targeted was of the same genus, Spirogyra, that is fished at Bossou, but grows on the bottom of the river and stream beds and does not collect on the surface as it does at Bossou. As such, the ecology of the particular algae growing at each site may drive the types of tools necessary to harvest the algae. We suggest that the algae likely provides a substantial nutritional benefit to the chimpanzees at Bakoun, especially during the dry season when chimpanzees were observed to fish for up to an hour at the same spot. 

These videos have not yet been up on Chimp&See yet and you can see that one of the limitations of our study was that the chimps from these videos have not yet been identified. We're hoping to have these up sometime in 2017 and look forward to matching some chimps with you then!

Boesch C, Kalan AK, Agbor A, Arandjelovic M, Dieguez P, Lapeyre V, Kรผhl HS (2016) Chimpanzees routinely fish for algae with tools during the dry season in Bakoun, Guinea. American Journal of Primatology doi 10.1002/ajp.22613


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