Nest-Building Behaviour by Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) in the Non-Protected Area of Diaguiri (Kedougou, Senegal): Implications for Conservation
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Diaguiri is a non-protected area situated in south-eastern Senegal. Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) have been living here since 1999 but information on the characteristics of their nest sites have been lacking until now. Furthermore, we implemented nest survey methods recently standardised to arid landscapes during a national chimpanzee survey. Variations in nest decay rates are poorly understood in savanna-woodland mosaic habitats. This study aims to describe in Diaguiri: (1) the distribution of chimpanzee nests and the location of their core sleeping area, (2) the tree species used for nest building, (3) the association between nests and nesting tree heights, and (4) differences in nest decay rates between habitats. We surveyed 43 km of chimpanzee nesting habitats and recorded 871 nests in gallery forest and woodland habitats between March 2015 and June 2016. Diaguiri chimpanzees used at least 17 tree species for nest building, and 58.8% of nests were in only 3 tree species: Pterocarpus erinaceus, Anogeissus leiocarpus and Diospyros mespiliformis. Nest decay rate was faster in gallery forests than in woodlands. These data are of great value for understanding habitat use by a Critically Endangered subspecies of savanna chimpanzee, for population density estimates of the species and for conservation programmes in this region and in savanna biomes.