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Fruit Phenology of Tree Species and Chimpanzees’ Choice of Consumption in Kalinzu Forest Reserve, Uganda

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DOI: 10.4236/oje.2015.510039    3,695 Downloads   4,128 Views   Citations

ABSTRACT

One hundred and eighteen (118) tree species were identified, among which 58 species produced fruit within the two-year study. Fruit of only 26.3% of the latter is eaten by chimpanzees. The consumption of each of these fruits was generally low, with only two species constituting more than 25% consumption. Only about 1.7% of woody biomass is relied upon by chimpanzees in Kalinzu for food. The major tree species in chimpanzee diet monitored showed that fruit production varies monthly and seasonally. Apart from Musanga leo-errerae and Ficus spp. whose fruiting was consistent throughout the year, general fruit phenology was positively correlated with rainfall. Only three species namely: Craterispermum laurinum, Aframomum angustifolium and Beilschmiedia ugandensis produced fruit in the dry seasons. Correlation between fruit availability and consumption was significantly positive for only one species, Landlophia dawei. This indicated that frugivory of chimpanzees in Kalinzu was not opportunistic; they search for what they like to eat. Chimpanzees would have to range furthest in periods of scarcity and asynchronous fruiting hence a lot of energy expenditure in the food search alone. Therefore, diversity in fruit phenology is important for chimpanzees’ energy conservation, health and survival. Selective logging and other selective human activities that involve cutting down trees that are palatable would in future affect the food diversity and consequently the health of frugivores if not done sustainably. Since patterns of fruit phenology are also linked to patterns of rainfall, changes in the former can assist in predicting the influence of climate change on food availability for big frugivores like chimpanzees.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Cite this paper

Kagoro-Rugunda, G. and Hashimoto, C. (2015) Fruit Phenology of Tree Species and Chimpanzees’ Choice of Consumption in Kalinzu Forest Reserve, Uganda. Open Journal of Ecology, 5, 477-490. doi: 10.4236/oje.2015.510039.

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