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Variation in behavioural traits of two frugivorous mammals may lead to differential responses to human disturbance


Tédonzong, Luc Roscelin Dongmo et al. (2021), Variation in behavioural traits of two frugivorous mammals may lead to differential responses to human disturbance, Dryad, Dataset,


Human activities can lead to a shift in wildlife species’ spatial distribution. Understanding the specific effects of human activities on ranging behaviour can improve conservation management of wildlife populations in human-dominated landscapes. This study evaluated the effects of forest use by humans on the spatial distribution of mammal species with different behavioural adaptations, using sympatric western lowland gorilla and central chimpanzee as focal species. We collected data on great ape nest locations, ecological and physical variables (habitat distribution, permanent rivers and topographic data), as well as anthropogenic variables (distance to trails, villages and a permanent research site). Here, we show that anthropogenic variables are important predictors of the distribution of wild animals. In the resource model, the distribution of gorilla nests was predicted by nesting habitat distribution, while chimpanzee nests were predicted first by elevation followed by nesting habitat distribution. In the anthropogenic model, the major predictors of gorilla nesting changed into human features, while the major predictors of chimpanzee nesting remained elevation and the availability of their preferred nesting habitats. Animal behavioural traits (body size, terrestrial/arboreal, level of specialization/generalization, and competitive inferiority/superiority) may influence the response of mammals to human activities. Our results suggest that chimpanzees may survive in human-encroached areas whenever the availability of their nesting habitat and preferred fruits can support their population, while a certain level of human activities may threaten gorillas. Consequently, the survival of gorillas in human-dominated landscapes is more at risk than that of chimpanzees. Replicating our research in other sites should permit a systematic evaluation of the influence of human activity on the distribution of mammal populations. As wild animals are increasingly exposed to human disturbance, understanding the resulting consequences of shifting species distributions due to human disturbance on animal population abundance and their long-term survival will be of growing conservation importance.

Usage Notes

A) Presence data (Great_apes_presence_points.csv), semi-colon separated

1) species = species name (Gorilla, Chimpanzee)
2) longitude = X coordinate (UTM zone 33N)
3) latitude = Y coordinate (UTM zone 33N)

B) Environmental variables (
In this zip file are all the environmental variables used in the study, including the ASCII file (.asc) and the projection file (.prj). The projections are in UTM Zone 33N

1) ASC file = Aspect.asc, projection file = Aspect.prj, description = Aspect
2) ASC file = Curvature.asc, projection file = Curvature.prj, description = Curvature
3) ASC file = Dist_Dja_Reserve_boundary.asc, projection file = Dist_Dja_Reserve_boundary.prj, description = Distance to Dja researve boundary
4) ASC file = Dist_Research_Camp.asc, projection file = Dist_Research_Camp.prj, description = Distance to research camp
5) ASC file = Dist_sec_trails.asc, projection file = Dist_sec_trails.prj, description = Distance to secondary trails
6) ASC file = Dist_village_trails.asc, projection file = Dist_village_trails.prj, description = Distance to village trails
7) ASC file = Dist_Villages.asc, projection file = Dist_Villages.prj, description = Distance to villages
8) ASC file = Elevation.asc, projection file = Elevation.prj, description = Elevation
9) ASC file = Hab_chimp.asc, projection file = Hab_chimp.prj, description = Preferred nesting habitat for chimpanzee
10) ASC file = Hab_gorilla.asc, projection file = Hab_gorilla.prj, description = Preferred nesting habitat for gorilla
11) ASC file = Perm_river_and_streams.asc, projection file = Perm_river_and_streams.prj, description = Distance to permanent rivers and streams
12) ASC file = Slope.asc, projection file = Slope.prj, description = Slope
13) ASC file = Surface_Relief_Ratio.asc, projection file = Surface_Relief_Ratio.prj, description = Surface relief ratio

C) Maxent results (
In this zip file are all the maxent model results for both gorillas and chimpanzes in the resource and anthropogenic models. Please refer to the original article for details. The files include the ASCII file (.asc) and the projection file (.prj). The projections are in UTM Zone 33N

1) ASC file = chimpanzee_anthropogenic_model.asc, projection file = chimpanzee_anthropogenic_model.prj, description = chimpanzee anthropogenic model
2) ASC file = chimpanzee_resource_model.asc, projection file = chimpanzee_resource_model.prj, description = chimpanzee resource model
3) ASC file = gorilla_anthropogenic_model.asc, projection file = gorilla_anthropogenic_model.prj, description = gorilla anthropogenic model
4) ASC file = gorilla_resource_model.asc, projection file = gorilla_resource_model.prj, description = gorilla resource model

D) Shapefiles (
1) Sampling_grid = 1000*1000 m grid used in the study
2) study_area_limits = Polygon of the entire area considered in the study



Conservation Action Research Network

Centre for Research and Conservation, Royal Zoological Society of Antwerp

Centre for Research and Conservation, Royal Zoological Society of Antwerp