Research Highlights: Female chimpanzees keep themselves away from humans

chimpanzee on a tree trunk
Photo by Sheku Koroma on

Female chimpanzees keep themselves away from humans

  • Human activities can cause rapid changes in the environment.
  • Large animals are likely to survive in this rapidly changing environment as long as they have high levels of behavioral flexibility.
  • Chimpanzees are animals that form close-bonded social groups and display high fission-fusion dynamics.
  • Fission-fusion dynamics is a property of social system that displays time-related variation in cohesion, subgroup size and composition.[1]
  • Researchers examined the social responses in chimpanzees to determine the animal’s resilience to dynamic human activities and improve human-wildlife interactions.
  • Researchers studied the social adjustment of chimpanzees to risks introduced by human-modified landscape in Uganda.
  • The study occured simultaneously with the seasonal availability of cultivated jackfruit.
  • Jackfruit is a dominant tropical fruit that can be found in croplands and village garden.
  • The party size of chimpanzees decreased when they moved from low-risk natural habitat to high-risk habitat such as croplands and village regions, driven mostly by parties with fewer females.
  • Researchers found that the chimpanzee social structure showed partial flexibility in response to human activity risk.
  • Males were more central than females in high-risk habitat.
  • Sex differences were observed to be driven by changes to membership between habitat types.
  • The study suggests that human activity risk can trigger repeated adjustments to chimpanzee groups in response to changing environment that modify the social lives of chimpanzees in various ways.
  • As a result, grouping pattern changes caused by human-induced activity could impact ecological and evolutionary processes triggered by social structure, including the spread of infectious disease.


Zoe M. Satsias et al. (2022). Sex-specific responses to anthropogenic risk shape wild chimpanzee social networks in a human-impacted landscape, Animal Behaviour. DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2022.01.016


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