Travel fosters tool use in wild chimpanzees
Ecological variation influences the appearance and maintenance of tool use in animals, either due to necessity or opportunity, but little is known about the relative importance of these two factors. Here, we combined long-term behavioural data on feeding and travelling with six years of field experiments in a wild chimpanzee community. In the experiments, subjects engaged with natural logs, which contained energetically valuable honey that was only accessible through tool use. Engagement with the experiment was highest after periods of low fruit availability involving more travel between food patches, while instances of actual tool-using were significantly influenced by prior travel effort only. Additionally, combining data from the main chimpanzee study communities across Africa supported this result, insofar as groups with larger travel efforts had larger tool repertoires. Travel thus appears to foster tool use in wild chimpanzees and may also have been a driving force in early hominin technological evolution.
Article and author information
European Commission (329197)
- Thibaud Gruber
European Commission (283871)
- Klaus Zuberbühler
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
Animal experimentation: Permission to conduct the chimpanzee research was given by Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA, permit FOD/33/02 to TG) and Uganda National Council for Science and Technology (UNCST, permit ns431 to TG). Research protocols were reviewed and approved by the veterinary staff at Budongo Conservation Field Station. Ethical approval was given by the Ethics Committees at the School of Psychology, University of St Andrews and the University of Neuchâtel.
- Russ Fernald, Stanford University, United States
- Received: March 24, 2016
- Accepted: July 6, 2016
- Accepted Manuscript published: July 19, 2016 (version 1)
- Version of Record published: August 3, 2016 (version 2)
© 2016, Gruber et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
- Page views
Article citation count generated by polling the highest count across the following sources: Crossref, Scopus, PubMed Central.
Downloads (link to download the article as PDF)
Open citations (links to open the citations from this article in various online reference manager services)
Cite this article (links to download the citations from this article in formats compatible with various reference manager tools)
- Evolutionary Biology
Evolutionary theory suggests that individuals should express costly traits at a magnitude that optimizes the trait bearer’s cost-benefit difference. Trait expression varies across a species because costs and benefits vary among individuals. For example, if large individuals pay lower costs than small individuals, then larger individuals should reach optimal cost-benefit differences at greater trait magnitudes. Using the cavitation-shooting weapons found in the big claws of male and female snapping shrimp, we test whether size- and sex-dependent expenditures explain scaling and sex differences in weapon size. We found that males and females from three snapping shrimp species (Alpheus heterochaelis, Alpheus angulosus, and Alpheus estuariensis) show patterns consistent with tradeoffs between weapon and abdomen size. For male A. heterochaelis, the species for which we had the greatest statistical power, smaller individuals showed steeper tradeoffs. Our extensive dataset in A. heterochaelis also included data about pairing, breeding season, and egg clutch size. Therefore, we could test for reproductive tradeoffs and benefits in this species. Female A. heterochaelis exhibited tradeoffs between weapon size and egg count, average egg volume, and total egg mass volume. For average egg volume, smaller females exhibited steeper tradeoffs. Furthermore, in males but not females, large weapons were positively correlated with the probability of being paired and the relative size of their pair mates. In conclusion, we identified size-dependent tradeoffs that could underlie reliable scaling of costly traits. Furthermore, weapons are especially beneficial to males and burdensome to females, which could explain why males have larger weapons than females.
- Evolutionary Biology
Strong sexual selection frequently leads to sexual conflict and ensuing male harm, whereby males increase their reproductive success at the expense of harming females. Male harm is a widespread evolutionary phenomenon with a strong bearing on population viability. Thus, understanding how it unfolds in the wild is a current priority. Here, we sampled a wild Drosophila melanogaster population and studied male harm across the normal range of temperatures under which it reproduces optimally in nature by comparing female lifetime reproductive success and underlying male harm mechanisms under monogamy (i.e. low male competition/harm) vs. polyandry (i.e. high male competition/harm). While females had equal lifetime reproductive success across temperatures under monogamy, polyandry resulted in a maximum decrease of female fitness at 24°C (35%), reducing its impact at both 20°C (22%), and 28°C (10%). Furthermore, female fitness components and pre- (i.e. harassment) and post-copulatory (i.e. ejaculate toxicity) mechanisms of male harm were asymmetrically affected by temperature. At 20°C, male harassment of females was reduced, and polyandry accelerated female actuarial aging. In contrast, the effect of mating on female receptivity (a component of ejaculate toxicity) was affected at 28°C, where the mating costs for females decreased and polyandry mostly resulted in accelerated reproductive aging. We thus show that, across a natural thermal range, sexual conflict processes and their effects on female fitness components are plastic and complex. As a result, the net effect of male harm on overall population viability is likely to be lower than previously surmised. We discuss how such plasticity may affect selection, adaptation and, ultimately, evolutionary rescue under a warming climate.