International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 29, Issue 4, pp 975–997 | Cite as

Female-Female Competition in Bornean Orangutans

  • Cheryl Knott
  • Lydia Beaudrot
  • Tamaini Snaith
  • Sarah White
  • Hartmut Tschauner
  • George Planansky


The mostly solitary ranging of orangutans and the large areas over which they traverse have hampered quantification of Bornean orangutan ranging patterns and feeding competition. Because of their semisolitary existence, female orangutans have few competitive interactions among themselves. However, contest and scramble types of competition occur, and researchers consider both to be important for the species. Using 9 yr of data and >22,300 h of observation of adult female orangutans in Gunung Palung National Park in Indonesian Borneo, we examined both forms of competition. Based on our analyses, we have 4 conclusions: 1) Adult female orangutans have highly overlapping home ranges, and thus there is potential for scramble competition to impose a cost. 2) Adult female orangutans actively avoid each other, suggesting that scramble competition indeed imposes a cost. 3) Adult females have distinct core areas that overlap to a lesser degree than home ranges do. 4) Analyses of contest competition reveal a slight spatial component to female competition for the first time. Preliminary evidence for core area defense and passive range exclusion may be among the mechanisms responsible for maintaining distinct adult female core areas.


core area dominance encounter rates female competition GIS home range orangutan passive range exclusion philopatry ranging 



We thank the Directorate of Nature Conservation (PHKA) for permission to conduct research in Gunung Palung National Park and the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), the Center for Research and Development in Biology (PPPB), and PHKA for their sponsorship. We thank the many field assistants and project managers who contributed to the data presented here. John Harting, Tucker Capps, and Benedict Clouette contributed to the GPS and vectorizing components. Melissa Emery Thompson, Sonya Kahlenberg, Margaret Crofoot, and 2 anonymous reviewers provided useful comments and discussions that contributed to the article. Nick Beaudrot and Ben Lewis clarified questions concerning data analysis. Grants from the National Geographic Society, the Leakey Foundation, the Conservation, Food and Health Foundation, the Orangutan Conservancy, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Science Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, and Harvard University made this work possible.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cheryl Knott
    • 1
  • Lydia Beaudrot
    • 1
  • Tamaini Snaith
    • 2
  • Sarah White
    • 1
  • Hartmut Tschauner
    • 3
  • George Planansky
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.Department of AnthropologyMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  3. 3.Department of Archaeology and Art HistorySeoul National UniversitySeoulKorea
  4. 4.Department of Earth and Planetary SciencesHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

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