Comparing the territories of two neighboring chimpanzee communities

Jane Widness
David Watts
Start Date: 
February, 2019

The Ngogo chimpanzee community in Kibale National Park, Uganda has been continuously studied since 1995, and has grown in size to over 200 individuals, about 4 times the size of the average community. Chimpanzee social organization is characterized by a high degree of fission-fusion dynamics, meaning that individuals form small parties that last for hours or days before changing in size and composition. The entire community of 200 individuals doesn’t gather in one place, rather there are multiple parties throughout the territory at any given time.  In the last few years, the patterns of fission-fusion have changed dramatically at Ngogo. Individuals who used to see each other infrequently now never come into contact peacefully. The community has permanently fissioned into two new communities, unequal in number and unequal in territory space.  My project is comparing the habitats of the two newly formed communities. Does the eastern community have more grassland within its range? Does the western community have more secondary forest? How do the spaces differ, and how might that have affected the size and shape of the new territories they’re carving out?