2012-04-26Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0035610
The effect of climate fluctuation on chimpanzee birth sex ratio.
Kühl, Hjalmar S.
Climate and weather conditions, such as the North Atlantic Oscillation, precipitation and temperature influence the birth sex ratio (BSR) of various higher latitude species, including deer, elephant seals or northern human populations. Although, tropical regions show only little variation in temperature, climate and weather conditions can fluctuate with consequences for phenology and food resource availability. Here, we evaluate, whether the BSR of chimpanzees, inhabiting African tropical forests, is affected by climate fluctuations as well. Additionally, we evaluate, if variation in consumption of a key food resource with high nutritional value, Coula edulis nuts, is linked to both climate fluctuations and variation in BSR. We use long-term data from two study groups located in Tai National Park, Côte d’Ivoire to assess the influence of local weather conditions and the global climate driver El Nin˜o Southern Oscillation (ENSO) on offspring sex. Côte d’Ivoire has experienced considerable climate variation over the last decades, with increasing temperature and declining precipitation. For both groups we find very similar time windows around the month of conception, in which offspring sex is well predicted by ENSO, with more males following low ENSO values, corresponding to periods of high rainfall. Furthermore, we find that the time spent cracking and feeding on Coula nuts is strongly influenced by climate conditions. Although, some of our analysis suggest that a higher proportion of males is born after periods with higher nut consumption frequency, we cannot conclude decisively at this point that nut consumption may influence shifts in BSR. All results combined suggest that also chimpanzees may experience climate related shifts in offspring sex ratios as response to climate fluctuation.
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