From Treadmill to Tropics: Calculating Ranging Cost in Chimpanzees

  • Herman Pontzer
  • David A. Raichlen
  • Michael D. Sockol
Part of the Developments in Primatology: Progress and Prospects book series (DIPR)


Ecological studies of wild primates often use travel time or distance as a measure of ranging and foraging cost. Recent laboratory studies of walking and climbing cost in primates and other mammals can greatly improve the accuracy of these estimates. Here, we review recent studies of climbing cost in primates and walking costs in chimpanzees, and apply this work to calculating daily ranging cost for wild chimpanzees. Laboratory investigations of locomotor cost suggest that daily locomotor cost is best calculated by multiplying the distance walked or climbed by the cost per meter of each activity. We discuss the reliability of different variables in predicting the cost per meter traveled, including body mass, hip height, and step length. We calculate daily ranging cost using these variables for different populations and sex-age classes of wild chimpanzees, and propose a hierarchical approach to estimating walking cost in wild populations, preferring hip height to body mass.


Biomechanics Energetics Foraging ecology Primate locomotion 



angle of take-off, relative to horizontal, for a leaping primate


basal metabolic rate (kJ/day)


cost of transport (J m–1); the metabolic cost of traveling a meter during terrestrial travel


cost of locomotion (J s–1); the rate of metabolic energy use during terrestrial locomotion


step length; the horizontal distance traveled during contact time for a limb


daily energy expenditure (kJ day–1); the total amount of energy used each day


effective mechanical advantage; the ratio of the muscle’s moment arm to the moment arm of the ground reaction force


metabolic cost of a leap (J)


metabolic cost of a climbing bout (J)


kinetic energy (J)


percentage of vertical ground force born by the forelimbs during terrestrial locomotion


gravitational acceleration (9.81 m s–2)


ground reaction force (N)


percentage of vertical ground force born by the hindlimbs during terrestrial locomotion


vertical distance traveled during a climbing bout (m)


body mass (kg)


skeletal limb length (cm); the summed lengths of a limb’s long bones, e.g., femur + tibia


effective limb length (cm); the length of a limb as a strut, typically measured as hip height while standing (Fig. 15.2).


fascicle length (m); the mean fascicle length for an extensor muscle group


forward velocity (m s –1 ) during terrestrial locomotion


force generated per cm2 of active muscle


contact time (s); the period of foot-ground contact for one limb during one stride


volume of muscle (cm3) activated to support bodyweight during terrestrial locomotion



We thank Evie Vereecke and Kristiaan D’Août for inviting us to join this volume.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Herman Pontzer
    • 1
  • David A. Raichlen
  • Michael D. Sockol
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyWashington UniversitySt. LouisUSA

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