Navigation Links
Female-led infanticide in wild chimpanzees

Researchers observing wild chimpanzees in Uganda have discovered repeated instances of a mysterious and poorly understood behavior: female-led infanticide. The findings, reported by Simon Townsend, Katie Slocombe and colleagues of the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, and the Budongo Forest Project, Uganda, appear in the May 15th issue of the journal Current Biology, published by Cell Press.

Infanticide is known to occur in many primate species, but is generally thought of as a male trait. An exception in the realm of chimpanzee behavior was famously noted in the 1970s by Jane Goodall in her observations of Passion and Pom, a mother-daughter duo who cooperated in the killing and cannibalization of at least two infant offspring of other females. In the absence of significant additional evidence for such behavior among female chimpanzees, speculation had been that female-led infanticide represented pathological behavior, or was a means of obtaining nutritional advantage under some circumstances.

As the result of new field work involving the Sonso chimpanzee community in Budongo Forest in Uganda, the St. Andrews researchers now report instances of three female-led infanticidal attacks. Alerted to the killings by sounds of chimpanzee screams, the researchers directly observed one infanticide, and found strong circumstantial evidence for two others. Evidence suggested that in two of the cases, the killings were perpetrated by groups of resident females against "stranger" females from outside the resident group. Infants were taken from the mothers, who were injured in at least two of the attacks; in at least one case, adult males in the area exhibited displaying behavior, with one old male unsuccessfully attempting to separate the females.

The authors point out that these new observations indicate that such female-led infanticides are neither the result of isolated, pathological behaviors nor the by-product of male aggression, but instead app ear to represent part of the female behavior repertoire in chimpanzees.

What drives the behavior is not yet clear, but may stem from demographic shifts that alter sex ratios and put increased pressure on females competing for foraging areas. In their report, the authors note that the Sonso community had experienced a significant population increase in the ten years prior to the infanticide observations (42 individuals in 1996 to 75 in 2006), and that there had been an influx of at least 13 females with dependent offspring since 2001. The population changes resulted in a highly skewed male:female sex ratio of 1:3, with relatively few males available to increase the home range.

According to the authors, the new findings indicate that although low-level aggression between female chimpanzees is more commonly seen, the observed instances of infanticide indicate that deadly aggression is not a gender-specific trait in this species.

Source:Cell Press

Related biology news :

1. Poaching, logging, and outbreaks of Ebola threaten central African gorillas and chimpanzees
2. UAB researchers confirm HIV-1 originated in wild chimpanzees
3. Gene study shows three distinct groups of chimpanzees
4. Ebola outbreaks killing thousands of gorillas and chimpanzees

Post Your Comments:

(Date:10/29/2015)... Calif. , Oct. 29, 2015  The J. ... new report titled, "DNA Synthesis and Biosecurity: Lessons Learned ... the Department of Health and Human Services guidance for ... in 2010. --> ... it also has the potential to pose unique biosecurity ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... , Oct. 29, 2015  Connected health pioneer, ... driving the explosion of technology-enabled health and wellness, and ... new book, The Internet of Healthy Things ... sensors or smartphones even existed, Dr. Kvedar, vice president, ... of health care delivery, moving care from the hospital ...
(Date:10/27/2015)... , Oct. 27, 2015 In the present ... of concern for various industry verticals such as banking, ... to the growing demand for secure & simplified access ... ,sectors, such as hacking of bank accounts, misuse of ... equipment such as PC,s, laptops, and smartphones are expected ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/1/2015)... , Dec. 1, 2015  CardioCell LLC, a ... stem cells for cardiovascular indications, intends to proceed ... based on recommendations from a Heart Failure Advisory ... Scientific Advisory Board members . In a ... Phase IIa safety and efficacy data from CardioCell,s ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... ... December 01, 2015 , ... ... backed, age-defying products, is featured as the cover story and throughout Success ... unrivaled opportunities that Nerium provides. Success from Home magazine routinely features successful ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... -- Dr. Harry Lander , President of Regen, expands ... Science Officer and recruits five distinguished scientists to ... President of Regen, expands his role to include ... five distinguished scientists to join advisory team --> ... include serving as Chief Science Officer ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... , December 1, 2015 ... addition of the  "2016 U.K. Virology and ... Forecasts for 100 Tests, Supplier Shares by ...  report to their offering.  --> ... the  "2016 U.K. Virology and Bacteriology Testing ...
Breaking Biology Technology: