Algae Scooping Remains a Puzzle

Part of the Primatology Monographs book series


Algae scooping is a tool-use signature marker of the Bossou chimpanzee community, as it is unique to this community and has never been observed at any other chimpanzee field site in Africa. Bossou chimpanzees use different techniques to feed on free-floating species of filamentous algae of the genus Spyrogyra available at the surface of ponds. However, the chimpanzees mainly rely on stick or stalk tools to gather the algae. This tool-use behavior is seasonal and occurs predominantly during rainy season months. A majority of tools were made from only two plant species. The availability of these plants beside ponds needs to be evaluated in the future to test whether the chimpanzees are purposely selecting those species over others. Differences in algae-feeding techniques recorded at Bossou may reveal interesting intracommunity patterns of social transmission. In addition, it is hypothesized that the chimpanzees select tools depending on algae abundance at the ponds’ surface to maximize proficiency as well as efficiency. Future perspectives are also discussed with regard to sex differences in algae scooping, with males performing algae scooping significantly more often than females, and the nutritional content of Spirogyra.


Filamentous Alga Tool Type Rice Paddy Field Alga Abundance Pond Surface 
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We wish to thank the Ministère de l’Enseignement Supérieur et de la Recherche Scientifique, in particular the Direction Nationale de la Recherche Scientifique et Technologique (DNRST) and the Institut de Recherche Environnementale de Bossou (IREB), for granting us over the years the permission to carry out research at Bossou.


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Copyright information

© Springer 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tatyana Humle
    • 1
  • Gen Yamakoshi
    • 2
  • Tetsuro Matsuzawa
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Anthropology and ConservationUniversity of KentCanterburyUK
  2. 2.Graduate School of Asian and African Area StudiesKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan
  3. 3.Primate Research InstituteKyoto UniversityInuyamaJapan

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