Environmental variability supports chimpanzee behavioural diversity

Ammie K. Kalan, Lars Kulik, Mimi Arandjelovic, Christophe Boesch, Fabian Haas, Paula Dieguez, Christopher D. Barratt, Ekwoge E. Abwe, Anthony Agbor, Samuel Angedakin, Floris Aubert, Emmanuel Ayuk Ayimisin, Emma Bailey, Mattia Bessone, Gregory Brazzola, Valentine Ebua Buh, Rebecca Chancellor, Heather Cohen, Charlotte Coupland, Bryan CurranEmmanuel Danquah, Tobias Deschner, Dervla Dowd, Manasseh Eno-Nku, J. Michael Fay, Annemarie Goedmakers, Anne Céline Granjon, Josephine Head, Daniela Hedwig, Veerle Hermans, Kathryn J. Jeffery, Sorrel Jones, Jessica Junker, Parag Kadam, Mohamed Kambi, Ivonne Kienast, Deo Kujirakwinja, Kevin E. Langergraber, Juan Lapuente, Bradley Larson, Kevin C. Lee, Vera Leinert, Manuel Llana, Sergio Marrocoli, Amelia C. Meier, Bethan Morgan, David Morgan, Emily Neil, Sonia Nicholl, Emmanuelle Normand, Lucy Jayne Ormsby, Liliana Pacheco, Alex Piel, Jodie Preece, Martha M. Robbins, Aaron Rundus, Crickette Sanz, Volker Sommer, Fiona Stewart, Nikki Tagg, Claudio Tennie, Virginie Vergnes, Adam Welsh, Erin G. Wessling, Jacob Willie, Roman M. Wittig, Yisa Ginath Yuh, Klaus Zuberbühler, Hjalmar S. Kühl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

Large brains and behavioural innovation are positively correlated, species-specific traits, associated with the behavioural flexibility animals need for adapting to seasonal and unpredictable habitats. Similar ecological challenges would have been important drivers throughout human evolution. However, studies examining the influence of environmental variability on within-species behavioural diversity are lacking despite the critical assumption that population diversification precedes genetic divergence and speciation. Here, using a dataset of 144 wild chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) communities, we show that chimpanzees exhibit greater behavioural diversity in environments with more variability — in both recent and historical timescales. Notably, distance from Pleistocene forest refugia is associated with the presence of a larger number of behavioural traits, including both tool and non-tool use behaviours. Since more than half of the behaviours investigated are also likely to be cultural, we suggest that environmental variability was a critical evolutionary force promoting the behavioural, as well as cultural diversification of great apes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4451
JournalNature communications
Volume11
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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