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Prey preference of the chimpanzee Pan troglodytes

Cite this dataset

Bugir, Cassandra (2022). Prey preference of the chimpanzee Pan troglodytes [Dataset]. Dryad.


Chimpanzees Pan troglodytes are the closest extant relative of modern humans, and are often used as a model organism to help understand prehistoric human behavior and ecology. Originally presumed herbivorous, chimpanzees have been observed hunting 24 species of birds, ungulates, rodents, monkeys, and other primates, using an array of techniques from tools to group cooperation. Using the literature on chimpanzee hunting behavior and diet from 13 studies, we aimed to determine the prey preferences of chimpanzees. We extracted data on prey-specific variables such as targeted species, their body weight, and their abundance within the prey community, and hunter-specific variables such as hunting method, and chimpanzee group size and sex ratio. We used these in a generalized linear model to determine what factors drive chimpanzee prey preference. We calculated a Jacobs’ Index value for each prey species killed at two sites in Uganda and two sites in Tanzania. Chimpanzees prefer prey with a body weight of 7.6 ± 0.4 kg or less, which corresponds to animals such as juvenile bushbuck Tragelaphus scriptus and guereza colobus monkeys Colobus guereza. Sex ratio in chimpanzee groups appears to drive chimpanzee prey preference, where chimpanzees increasingly prefer prey when in male-dominated groups. Prey preference information from chimpanzee research can assist conservation management programs by identifying key prey species to manage, as well as contribute to a better understanding of the evolution of human hunting behavior.


Data was collected through a comprehensive literature search through JSTOR, Web of Science, and Google Scholar using the search terms: “chimpanzee” or “Pan troglodytes” AND “prey preference” OR “hunt*” OR “diet” OR “predation” OR “hunting strategies”. Studies that did not have sufficient data were excluded from consideration. Insufficient data included studies that had only one or two prey species listed, or that included only qualitative data. Where only kill or abundance data were provided, the authors were contacted for supplementary information, or we contacted other authors who worked at the same site at about the same time (+/- 5 years). If an author did not respond, we searched for information for the same study area around the same year using Google Scholar.

Usage notes

This ChimpanzeeData.txt file was generated on 2021-02-17


1. Title of Dataset: Prey preferences of the chimpanzee Pan troglodytes Cassandra K. Bugir1, Thomas M. Butynski2, Matt W. Hayward1, 3 1 Conservation Biology Research Group, School of Environmental and Life Sciences, University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW, Australia 2  Eastern Africa Primate Diversity and Conservation Program & Lolldaiga Hills Research Programme, Nanyuki, Kenya 3 Mammal Research Institute, University of Pretoria, Tshwane, South Africa X001; Centre for African Conservation Ecology, Nelson Mandela University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa.


Funding: This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.


1. Number of variables: 19

2. Number of cases/rows: 77 Rows

3. Variable List:

<Order- Taxonomic order of species hunted>

<Common name- Common name of species hunted>

<Scientific name- Scientific name of species hunted>

<BM- Body mass of hunted species (unit kg)>

<Density- relative abundance of species from the site they were found, source is indicated in "Density Data Source">

<kill- hunted numbers as indicates in source "Kill Data Source">

<p- proportion of density from each site, calculated from the total number of species at that site>

<r- proportion of kills from each site, calculated from the total number of kills at that site >

<D- Jacobs' Index equation calculated from p and r. [D= (r - p)/(r + p - 2rp)]>

<site, country, and continent are geographical locations pulled from sources indicated in Kill and Density Data Sources >

<site, country, continent, and Habitat are geographical locations pulled from sources indicated in Kill and Density Data Sources >

<kill method and Chimpanzee group are variables pulled from sources indicated in Kill and Density Data Sources >

<CGS- Chimpanzee Group Size >

<SR- Sex ratio within the chimpanzee group size >

<Kill Data Source- reference of where data was obtained for meta-analysis>

<Density Data Source- reference of where data was obtained for meta-analysis >