Pressed for Time: Foraging and Social Strategies of Chacma Baboons (Papio hamadryas ursinus) in a Seasonal and Anthropogenic Habitat in South Africa

Date
2020
Authors
Ellwanger, Nicholas
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Abstract

In this dissertation, I measure how time and resource utilization shape patterns of activity, foraging, and grooming in chacma baboons (Papio hamadryas ursinus) in a temperate anthropogenic habitat. I collected data on activity, feeding behavior, and grooming in a group of baboons in Hemel-en-Aarde Valley (HAV), South Africa across 11 months. HAV is a mosaic habitat comprised of endemic fynbos, agricultural fruit, invasive trees, and pasture. Analysis of focal observation data demonstrate that during short winter days, baboons rested and groomed less; however, feeding time remained stable across the year. Baboons spent more time feeding overall when they increased feeding effort on seeds from invasive trees, which provided high biomass per feeding bout and were associated with low food patch search time. However, invasive tree seeds were associated with low measures of feeding efficiency. Thus, baboons' foraging strategy reduced search costs and prioritized total biomass intake but required high levels of feeding effort. High feeding effort led to decreases in time available for grooming during the winter, which in turn constrained female grooming relationships. During winter, adult females reduced the frequency of grooming bouts and the number of grooming partners. As a result, the density of the female grooming network decreased by half. However, grooming bout length and the strength of grooming bonds were similar between seasons, suggesting female baboons prioritized grooming bond quality over quantity under these conditions. I discuss how these results fit within theoretical models of primate behavior and how they can improve primate conservation and management.

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Keywords
Anthropogenic Habitat Change, Baboon, Foraging, Primate, Social Network Analysis, Time Allocation
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Department
Anthropology