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Key 'impact hunters' catalyze hunting among male chimpanzees
Date:2/1/2008

e addition of these two impact hunters that increased hunting likelihood. It is not entirely clear what special qualities these chimpanzees might posses that would contribute to their role in hunting groups. Of the two impact hunters one was the alpha male, but one was not particularly high-ranking or outstanding in terms of physical appearance. What appears to be significant is that these particular chimpanzees display a unique willingness to hunt, and have a high success rate when hunting. The findings of this study may also be applicable to the hunting behavior of other animals that hunt in this way, such as dolphins and lions.

This study also addresses the motivation for hunting in groups. It has previously been suggested that hunting with others increases the amount of meat that each individual obtains. However, chimpanzees obtain most of their calories from ripe fruit, and hunting does not increase in response to a scarcity of fruit. Instead, the researchers theorize that meat provides important micronutrients that are difficult to obtain solely from fruit, and because of this, even a small scrap of meat is beneficial.

Gilby and his colleagues have shown that as the number of hunters increases, so does the likelihood that an individual will receive a piece of meat. Therefore, there is an incentive for a given male to join a hunt. However, in large groups, hunters and non-hunters were equally likely to obtain meat, suggesting that an individual should refrain from hunting thus avoiding the inherent risks and dangers of chasing prey. This is exactly what the researchers found the likelihood that a given male hunted increased rapidly with party size, but only to a point. In large groups, there was no effect of party size on an individuals hunting probability.

While predation among chimpanzees is cooperative, the researchers found that hunting does not appear to be a collaborative process. Males were not more likely to hunt for reaso
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Contact: Amy Lavoie
amy_lavoie@harvard.edu
617-496-9982
Harvard University
Source:Eurekalert

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