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After the smoke has cleared: Extended low fruit productivity following forest fires decreased gregariousness and social tolerance among wild female Bornean orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus wurmbii)


Ashbury, Alison M; Meric de Bellefon, Jade; Kunz, Julia A; Abdullah, Misdi; Marzec, Anna M; Fryns, Caroline; Utami Atmoko, Sri Suci; van Schaik, Carel P; van Noordwijk, Maria A (2022). After the smoke has cleared: Extended low fruit productivity following forest fires decreased gregariousness and social tolerance among wild female Bornean orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus wurmbii). International Journal of Primatology, 43(2):189-215.

Abstract

As climate change continues to fundamentally alter resource landscapes, the ability to flexibly respond to spatio-temporal changes in the distribution of preferred food sources is increasingly important for the overall health and fitness of animals living in seasonal, variable, and/or changing environments. Here, we investigate the effects of an uncharacteristically long period of fruit scarcity, following widespread thick haze caused by peat and forest fires in 2015, on the behaviour and sociality of female Bornean orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus wurmbii). We collected data from 2010 to 2018 at Tuanan, Central Kalimantan, Indonesia, and compared the activity, diet, and association patterns of adult females during low-fruit periods before the fires, i.e., regular, seasonal periods of low fruit availability (“pre-fire”), and after the fires, i.e., during the extended period of low fruit availability (“post-fire”). First, we found that, post-fire, female orangutans adopted a more extreme energy-saving activity pattern and diet — resting more, travelling less, and diet-switching to less-preferred foods — compared to pre-fire. Second, we found that the probabilities of association between females and their weaned immature offspring, and between related and unrelated adult females were lower, and the probability of agonism between unrelated females was higher, post-fire than pre-fire. This change in energetic strategy, and the general reduction in gregariousness and social tolerance, demonstrates how forest fires can have lasting consequences for orangutans. Fission–fusion species such as orangutans can mitigate the effects of changes in resource landscapes by altering their (sub)grouping patterns; however, this may have long-term indirect consequences on their fitness.

Abstract

As climate change continues to fundamentally alter resource landscapes, the ability to flexibly respond to spatio-temporal changes in the distribution of preferred food sources is increasingly important for the overall health and fitness of animals living in seasonal, variable, and/or changing environments. Here, we investigate the effects of an uncharacteristically long period of fruit scarcity, following widespread thick haze caused by peat and forest fires in 2015, on the behaviour and sociality of female Bornean orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus wurmbii). We collected data from 2010 to 2018 at Tuanan, Central Kalimantan, Indonesia, and compared the activity, diet, and association patterns of adult females during low-fruit periods before the fires, i.e., regular, seasonal periods of low fruit availability (“pre-fire”), and after the fires, i.e., during the extended period of low fruit availability (“post-fire”). First, we found that, post-fire, female orangutans adopted a more extreme energy-saving activity pattern and diet — resting more, travelling less, and diet-switching to less-preferred foods — compared to pre-fire. Second, we found that the probabilities of association between females and their weaned immature offspring, and between related and unrelated adult females were lower, and the probability of agonism between unrelated females was higher, post-fire than pre-fire. This change in energetic strategy, and the general reduction in gregariousness and social tolerance, demonstrates how forest fires can have lasting consequences for orangutans. Fission–fusion species such as orangutans can mitigate the effects of changes in resource landscapes by altering their (sub)grouping patterns; however, this may have long-term indirect consequences on their fitness.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Evolutionary Anthropology
Dewey Decimal Classification:300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Life Sciences > Animal Science and Zoology
Uncontrolled Keywords:Animal Science and Zoology, Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Language:English
Date:1 April 2022
Deposited On:18 Jan 2022 16:50
Last Modified:26 Jun 2024 01:50
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:0164-0291
OA Status:Hybrid
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s10764-021-00263-x
Project Information:
  • : FunderMax Planck Institute of Animal Behavior
  • : Grant ID
  • : Project Title
  • Content: Published Version
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)