Saturday, September 30, 2023

GPS Tracking Reveals the Secrets of Female Baboon Dispersal

According to a recent study from Swansea University and the University of Cape Town, a female baboon stops using urban areas after giving birth for the first time, which is another illustration of how wild animals are adapting to urbanization.

How the study was conducted

(Photo : INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty Images)

The study, recently published in the journal Ecology & Evolution, used GPS collars to track the movements of 13 chacma baboons in Cape Town, South Africa, as per

The chacma baboon is one of the largest of all monkeys and inhabits a wide range of habitats throughout southern Africa, showing substantial flexibility in behavior and ecology.

The information showed that one collared female stopped visiting urban areas after giving birth with no appreciable difference in daily distance traveled or expected social contacts with general risk-sensitive behavior during this time.

Despite the fact that only one baboon gave birth while sporting a GPS monitoring collar, the field team noticed the same trend of postpartum urban avoidance in two other females who were not wearing collars.

Why the behavior change matters

According to the researchers, these behavioral adjustments made by the baboon moms may lessen the risks that babies may face in an urban setting.

Additionally, it offers an insightful look at how species with sluggish life histories, which invest in fewer offspring with prolonged parental care, must modify their behavior to deal with changes due to human activity within their lifetime, as per Eurekalert.

Dr. Anna Bracken, the study’s principal investigator and a former Ph.D. candidate at Swansea University who is now based at the University of Glasgow, said, “Urban environments may be risky for baboon mothers and their infants, and this study provides further evidence of how baboons living near these areas are adapting in response to the threats they face.”

The team’s most recent research not only sheds light on how life history events affect people’s interactions with manmade surroundings but it may also be used to suggest strategies for managing the baboon’s urban space use.

These findings have ramifications for how we manage baboon interactions with human environments, according to Dr. Andrew King, a senior author of the study.

We can assist landowners and decision-makers in creating strategies to reduce conflict and encourage cooperation between humans by showing how long-lived creatures with slow life history strategies adapt to anthropogenic changes and wildlife on the urban edge. 

Also Read: King Baboon Spider: This Tarantula’s Immensely Painful Venom May Help Us Understand Chronic Pain 

How urbanization affects baboon physiology and Behaviour

Understanding the effects is crucial from a conservation standpoint as animals’ home ranges become more a mosaic of natural and manmade landscapes and they occupy habitats that are closer to humans of human activities on wildlife.

Since non-human primates and humans have such a close evolutionary relationship, many of them are able to coexist in the same habitats.

However, such closeness frequently results in direct conflict between people and wildlife, which raises stress levels, causes accidents, increases mortality, and changes in behavior that are bad for long-term health and fitness.

It is becoming more common to use glucocorticoid (GC) hormones, which are released in response to ecological and social difficulties, to comprehend reactions to anthropogenic disturbance.

The same researchers discovered in a prior study that time spent roaming in more anthropogenically altered environments was linked to greater levels of GCs, more aggression, less time socializing, and shorter grooming bouts among female chacma baboons in Cape Town.

Self-directed behavior, however, varied and did not necessarily reflect physiological measures of stress.

Taken together, these studies highlight the risks associated with ranging in anthropogenic environments and point to the need for a multifaceted approach to studying the negative impacts of human activities on animals so as to better inform conservation practices.

Related article: Baboon Cliques Limit Learning Among the Group

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