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Do “savanna” chimpanzees consume C4 resources?


Sponheimer, M; Loudon, J E; Codron, D; Howells, M E; Pruetz, J D; Codron, J; de Ruiter, D J; Lee-Thorp, J A (2006). Do “savanna” chimpanzees consume C4 resources? Journal of Human Evolution, 51(2):128-133.

Abstract

Several stable carbon isotopic studies have shown that South African australopiths consumed significant quantities of C4 resources (tropical grasses, sedges, or animals that eat those foods), but relatively little is known about the consumption of such resources by chimpanzees. Here, we present stable carbon isotopic data for 36 chimpanzee hair samples from Fongoli, one of the driest and most open areas inhabited by chimpanzees. These data suggest that the Fongoli chimpanzees consume little in the way of C4 vegetation or animals that eat such vegetation, even though these resources are locally abundant and preferred fruits are more widely scattered than at most chimpanzee study sites. The homogeneity of the Fongoli results is especially striking and recalls the narrow isotopic distribution of stenotopic savanna mammals. This is in stark contrast to what has been observed for australopiths, which had highly variable diets and consumed about 35% C4 vegetation on average. Carbon isotope data for modern and fossil Papio depict a dietarily variable genus with a tendency to consume C4 vegetation. This trophic flexibility, or willingness to consume C4 savanna resources, may make Papio a more profitable ecological analog for australopiths than chimpanzees.

Several stable carbon isotopic studies have shown that South African australopiths consumed significant quantities of C4 resources (tropical grasses, sedges, or animals that eat those foods), but relatively little is known about the consumption of such resources by chimpanzees. Here, we present stable carbon isotopic data for 36 chimpanzee hair samples from Fongoli, one of the driest and most open areas inhabited by chimpanzees. These data suggest that the Fongoli chimpanzees consume little in the way of C4 vegetation or animals that eat such vegetation, even though these resources are locally abundant and preferred fruits are more widely scattered than at most chimpanzee study sites. The homogeneity of the Fongoli results is especially striking and recalls the narrow isotopic distribution of stenotopic savanna mammals. This is in stark contrast to what has been observed for australopiths, which had highly variable diets and consumed about 35% C4 vegetation on average. Carbon isotope data for modern and fossil Papio depict a dietarily variable genus with a tendency to consume C4 vegetation. This trophic flexibility, or willingness to consume C4 savanna resources, may make Papio a more profitable ecological analog for australopiths than chimpanzees.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:05 Vetsuisse Faculty > Veterinary Clinic > Department of Small Animals
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
630 Agriculture
Date:2006
Deposited On:12 Feb 2010 15:25
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 13:37
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0047-2484
Publisher DOI:10.1016/j.jhevol.2006.02.002
PubMed ID:16630647
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-25346

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