Graduate Fellow

Personality and Transfer Outcomes in Female Chimpanzees at Gombe National Park

PI(s): Kara Walker (Duke University)
Alexander Weiss (University of Edinburgh)
Anne Pusey (Duke University)
Start Date: 1-Sep-2014
End Date: 24-Nov-2014
Keywords: dispersal, behavior, database, life histories

In chimpanzees, females, rather than males, disperse at sexual maturity to avoid breeding with close relatives. This unusual pattern is especially costly for females because they must integrate socially and establish a new foraging area while beginning reproduction. Resident females are hostile to new immigrants and aggression increases dramatically during the integration period. Some females are able to transition quickly and begin reproduction with only a small delay, others can take up to 8 years. Personality is known to have fitness consequences in great apes and is expected to influence the integration process. Of the six factors that comprise chimpanzee personality, extraversion, openness, agreeableness and dominance are hypothesized to play a role in integrating into a new community. This project will test the relationship between personality measures, transfer decisions, and time to first birth in the chimpanzees of Gombe National Park. As part of a collaborative project with Dr. Alexander Weiss, these data will also contribute to addressing the tradeoffs between personality and life history traits that may explain the persistence of personality variation in chimpanzees.