36 Works

Habitat fragmentation shapes natal dispersal and sociality in an Afrotropical cooperative breeder

Laurence Cousseau, Martijn Hammers, Dries Van De Loock, Beate Apfelbeck, Mwangi Githiru, Erik Matthysen & Luc Lens
It remains poorly understood how effects of anthropogenic activity, such as large-scale habitat fragmentation, impact sociality in animals. In cooperatively breeding species, groups are mostly formed through delayed offspring dispersal, and habitat fragmentation can affect this process in two opposite directions. Increased habitat isolation may increase dispersal costs, promoting delayed dispersal. Alternatively, reduced patch size and quality may decrease benefits of philopatry, promoting dispersal. Here, we test both predictions in a cooperatively breeding bird (placid...

Data from: Resource selection and landscape change reveal mechanisms suppressing population recovery for the world's most endangered antelope

Abdullahi H. Ali, Adam T. Ford, Jeffrey S. Evans, David P. Mallon, Matthew M. Hayes, Juliet King, Rajan Amin & Jacob R. Goheen
Understanding how bottom-up and top-down forces affect resource selection can inform restoration efforts. With a global population size of <500 individuals, the hirola Beatragus hunteri is the world's most endangered antelope, with a declining population since the 1970s. While the underlying mechanisms are unclear, some combination of habitat loss and predation are thought to be responsible for low abundances of contemporary populations. Efforts to conserve hirola are hindered by a lack of understanding as to...

Data from: Role of grooming in reducing tick load in wild baboons (Papio cynocephalus)

Mercy Y. Akinyi, Susan C. Alberts, Jeanne Altmann, Nilesh B. Patel, Jenny Tung & Maamun Jeneby
Nonhuman primate species spend a conspicuous amount of time grooming during social interactions, a behaviour that probably serves both social and health-related functions. While the social implications of grooming have been relatively well studied, less attention has been paid to the health benefits, especially the removal of ectoparasites, which may act as vectors in disease transmission. In this study, we examined whether grooming behaviour reduced tick load (number of ticks) and haemoprotozoan infection status in...

Data from: Interacting effects of wildlife loss and climate on ticks and tick-borne disease

Georgia Titcomb, Brian F. Allan, Tyler Ainsworth, Henson Lauren, Tyler Hedlund, Robert M. Pringle, Todd M. Palmer, Laban Njoroge, Michael G. Campana, Robert C. Fleischer, John Naisikie Mantas, Hillary S. Young & Lauren Henson
Both large-wildlife loss and climatic changes can independently influence the prevalence and distribution of zoonotic disease. Given growing evidence that wildlife loss often has stronger community-level effects in low-productivity areas, we hypothesized that these perturbations would have interactive effects on disease risk. We experimentally tested this hypothesis by measuring tick abundance and the prevalence of tick-borne pathogens (Coxiella burnetii and Rickettsia spp.) within long-term, size-selective, large-herbivore exclosures replicated across a precipitation gradient in East Africa....

Data from: Organic matter and nutrient inputs from large wildlife influence ecosystem function in the Mara River, Africa

Amanda L. Subalusky, Christopher L. Dutton, Laban Njoroge, Emma J. Rosi & David M. Post
Animals can be important vectors for the movement of resources across ecosystem boundaries. Animals add resources to ecosystems primarily through egestion, excretion and carcasses, and the stoichiometry and bioavailability of these inputs likely interacts with characteristics of the recipient ecosystem to determine their effects on ecosystem function. We studied the influence of hippopotamus excretion/egestion and wildebeest carcasses, and their interactions with discharge, in the Mara River, Kenya. We measured nutrient dissolution and decomposition rates of...

A new species of croton (Euphorbiaceae) from a Madagascan lineage discovered in coastal Kenya

Veronicah Ngumbau, Mwadime Nyange, Neng Wei, Benjamin Van Ee, Paul Berry, Itambo Malombe, Guang-Wan Hu & Qing-Feng Wang
Croton kinondoensis, a new species from Kenya, is described and illustrated here with photographs. It is found in the sacred Kaya Kinondo Forest, one of the last remaining coastal forests patches in Kenya. Its morphology and systematic position based on ITS and trnL-F DNA sequence data clearly place it within the Adenophorus Group of Croton, a clade of ca. 15 species otherwise known only from Madagascar and the Comoros Archipelago. Its closest affinities appear to...

Fine-scale habitat heterogeneity influences browsing damage by elephant and giraffe

Duncan Kimuyu, David Kenfack, Paul Musili & Robert Ang'ila
Effects of large mammalian herbivores on woody vegetation tend to be heterogeneous in space and time, but the factors that drive such heterogeneity are poorly understood. We examined the influence of fine-scale habitat heterogeneity on the distribution and browsing effects of two of the largest African terrestrial mammals, the elephant and giraffe. We conducted this study within a 120-ha (500 x 2400 m) ForestGEO long-term vegetation monitoring plot located at Mpala Research Center, Kenya. The...

Data from: Testosterone positively associated with both male mating effort and paternal behavior in savanna baboons (Papio cynocephalus)

Patrick Ogola Onyango, Laurence R. Gesquiere, Jeanne Altmann & Susan C. Alberts
Testosterone (T) is often positively associated with male sexual behavior and negatively associated with paternal care. These associations have primarily been demonstrated in species where investment in paternal care begins well after mating activity is complete, when offspring are hatched or born. Different patterns may emerge in studies of species where investment in mating and paternal care overlap temporally, for instance in non-seasonal breeders in which males mate with multiple females sequentially and may simultaneously...

Data from: Demographic drivers of a refugee species: large-scale experiments guide strategies for reintroductions of hirola

Abdullahi H. Ali, Matthew J. Kauffman, Rajan Amin, Amos Kibara, Juliet King, David Mallon, Charles Musyoki & Jacob R. Goheen
Effective reintroduction strategies require accurate estimates of vital rates and the factors that influence them. We estimated vital rates of hirola (Beatragus hunteri) populations exposed to varying levels of predation and rangeland quality from 2012 to 2015, and then built population matrices to estimate the finite rate of population change (λ) and demographic sensitivities. Mean survival for all age classes and population growth was highest in the low predation/high-rangeland quality setting (λ = 1.08 ±...

Data from: Maasai pastoralists kill lions in retaliation for depredation of livestock by lions

Enoch M. Ontiri, Martin Odino, Antony Kasanga, Paula Kahumbu, Lance W. Robinson, Tom Currie & Dave J. Hodgson
The borders of national parks in Kenya are hotspots for human–wildlife conflict. The deliberate killing of lions by Maasai pastoralists is illegal, but continues despite mitigation attempts. Currently, there is a somewhat pervasive opinion, within the human–wildlife conflict literature, that lions are killed by Maasai people either as cultural ceremony or indiscriminately in response to the loss of livestock. We reconsider the indiscriminate reputation of lion‐killing, using a combination of structured dialogue and quantitative analysis....

Data from: Developing the global potential of citizen science: assessing opportunities that benefit people, society and the environment in East Africa

Michael J. O. Pocock, Helen E. Roy, Tom August, Anthony Kuria, Fred Barasa, John Bett, Mwangi Githiru, James Kairo, Julius Kimani, Wanja Kinuthia, Bernard Kissui, Ireene Madindou, Kamau Mbogo, Judith Mirembe, Paul Mugo, Faith Milkah Muniale, Peter Njoroge, Edwin Gichohi Njuguna, Mike Izava Olendo, Michael Opige, Tobias O. Otieno, Caroline Chebet Ng’weno, Elisha Pallangyo, Thuita Thenya, Ann Wanjiru … & Caroline Chebet Ng'weno
1. Citizen science is gaining increasing prominence as a tool for science and engagement but has little visibility in many developing countries, despite being a potentially valuable tool for sustainable development. 2. We undertook a collaborative prioritization process with experts in conservation and the environment to assess the potential of environmental citizen science in East Africa including its opportunities, benefits and barriers. This provided principles that are applicable across developing countries, particularly for large-scale citizen...

Data from: Female and male life tables for seven wild primate species

Anne M. Bronikowski, Marina Cords, Susan C. Alberts, Jeanne Altmann, Diane K. Brockman, Linda M. Fedigan, Anne Pusey, Tara Stoinski, Karen B. Strier & William F. Morris
We provide male and female census count data, age-specific survivorship, and female age-specific fertility estimates for populations of seven wild primates that have been continuously monitored for at least 29 years: sifaka (Propithecus verreauxi) in Madagascar; muriqui (Brachyteles hypoxanthus) in Brazil; capuchin (Cebus capucinus) in Costa Rica; baboon (Papio cynocephalus) and blue monkey (Cercopithecus mitis) in Kenya; chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) in Tanzania; and gorilla (Gorilla beringei) in Rwanda. Using one-year age-class intervals, we computed point...

Data from: Measuring fecal testosterone in females and fecal estrogens in males: comparison of RIA and LC/MS/MS methods for wild baboons (Papio cynocephalus).

Laurence R. Gesquiere, Toni E. Ziegler, Patricia A. Chen, Katherine A. Epstein, Susan C. Alberts & Jeanne Altmann
The development of non-invasive methods, particularly fecal determination, has made possible the assessment of hormone concentrations in wild animal populations. However, measuring fecal metabolites needs careful validation for each species and for each sex. We investigated whether radioimmunoassays (RIAs) previously used to measure fecal testosterone (fT) in male baboons and fecal estrogens (fE) in female baboons were well suited to measure these hormones in the opposite sex. We compared fE and fT concentrations determined by...

Data from: Aging in the natural world: comparative data reveal similar mortality patterns across primates

Anne M. Bronikowski, Jeanne Altmann, Diane K. Brockman, Marina Cords, Linda M. Fedigan, Anne Pusey, Tara Stoinski, William F. Morris, Karen B. Strier & Susan C. Alberts
Human senescence patterns – late onset of mortality increase, slow mortality acceleration, and exceptional longevity – are often described as unique in the animal world. Using an individual-based dataset from longitudinal studies of wild populations of seven primate species, we show that contrary to assumptions of human uniqueness, human senescence falls within the primate continuum of aging, the tendency for males to have shorter lifespans and higher age-specific mortality than females throughout much of adulthood...

Data from: Fossil lemurs from Egypt and Kenya suggest an African origin for Madagascar’s aye-aye

Gregg F. Gunnell, Doug M. Boyer, Anthony F. Friscia, Steven Heritage, Fredrick K. Manthi, Ellen R. Miller, Hesham M. Sallam, Nancy B. Simmons, Nancy J. Stevens & Erik R. Seiffert
In 1967 G.G. Simpson described three partial mandibles from early Miocene deposits in Kenya that he interpreted as belonging to a new strepsirrhine primate, Propotto. This interpretation was quickly challenged, with the assertion that Propotto was not a primate, but rather a pteropodid fruit bat. The latter interpretation has not been questioned for almost half a century. Here we re-evaluate the affinities of Propotto, drawing upon diverse lines of evidence to establish that this strange...

High social status males experience accelerated epigenetic aging in wild baboons

Jordan Anderson, Rachel Johnston, Amanda Lea, Fernando Campos, Tawni Voyles, Mercy Akinyi, Susan Alberts, Elizabeth Archie & Jenny Tung
Aging, for virtually all life, is inescapable. However, within populations, biological aging rates vary. Understanding sources of variation in this process is central to understanding the biodemography of natural populations. We constructed a DNA methylation-based age predictor for an intensively studied wild baboon population in Kenya. Consistent with findings in humans, the resulting “epigenetic clock” closely tracks chronological age, but individuals are predicted to be somewhat older or younger than their known ages. Surprisingly, these...

Data from: Vanishing refuge? Testing the forest refuge hypothesis in coastal East Africa using genome-wide sequence data for seven amphibians

Christopher D. Barratt, Beryl A. Bwong, Robert Jehle, H. Christoph Liedtke, Peter Nagel, Renske E. Onstein, Daniel M. Portik, Jeffrey W. Streicher & Simon P. Loader
High-throughput sequencing data have greatly improved our ability to understand the processes that contribute to current biodiversity patterns. The “vanishing refuge” diversification model is speculated for the coastal forests of eastern Africa, whereby some taxa have persisted and diversified between forest refugia, while others have switched to becoming generalists also present in non-forest habitats. Complex arrangements of geographical barriers (hydrology and topography) and ecological gradients between forest and non-forest habitats may have further influenced the...

Data from: Costs of immunity and their role in the range expansion of the house sparrow in Kenya

Lynn B. Martin, Holly J. Kilvitis, Amber J. Brace, Laken Cooper, Mark F. Haussmann, Alex Mutati, Vincent Fasanello, Sara O'Brien & Daniel R. Ardia
There are at least two reasons to study traits that mediate successful range expansions. First, dispersers will found new populations and thus impact the distribution and evolution of species. Second, organisms moving into new areas will influence the fate of resident communities, directly competing with or indirectly affecting residents by spreading non-native or spilling-back native parasites. The success of invaders in new areas is likely mediated by a counterbalancing of costly traits. In new areas...

Data from: Species richness and phylogenetic diversity of seed plants across vegetation zones of Mount Kenya, East Africa

Yadong Zhou, Sichong Chen, Guangwan Hu, Geoffrey Mwachala, Xue Yan, Qing-Feng Wang & Qingfeng Wang
Mount Kenya is of ecological importance in tropical east Africa due to the dramatic gradient in vegetation types that can be observed from low to high elevation zones. However, species richness and phylogenetic diversity of this mountain have not been well studied. Here, we surveyed distribution patterns for a total of 1,335 seed plants of this mountain and calculated species richness and phylogenetic diversity across seven vegetation zones. We also measured phylogenetic structure using the...

Data from: Cumulative early life adversity predicts longevity in wild baboons

Jenny Tung, Jeanne Altmann, Elizabeth A. Archie & Susan C. Alberts
In humans and other animals, harsh circumstances in early life predict morbidity and mortality in adulthood. Multiple adverse conditions are thought to be especially toxic, but this hypothesis has rarely been tested in a prospective, longitudinal framework, especially in long-lived mammals. Here we use prospective data on 196 wild female baboons to show that cumulative early adversity predicts natural adult lifespan. Females who experience ≥3 sources of early adversity die a median of 10 years...

Data from: Social affiliation matters: both same-sex and opposite-sex relationships predict survival in wild female baboons

Elizabeth A. Archie, Jenny Tung, Michael Clark, Jeanne Altmann & Susan C. Alberts
Social integration and support can have profound effects on human survival. The extent of this phenomenon in non-human animals is largely unknown, but such knowledge is important to understanding the evolution of both lifespan and sociality. Here, we report evidence that levels of affiliative social behaviour (i.e. ‘social connectedness’) with both same-sex and opposite-sex conspecifics predict adult survival in wild female baboons. In the Amboseli ecosystem in Kenya, adult female baboons that were socially connected...

Data from: Costs and drivers of helminth parasite infection in wild female baboons

Mercy Y. Akinyi, David Jansen, Bobby Habig, Laurence Gesquiere, Susan C. Alberts & Elizabeth A. Archie
1. Helminth parasites can have wide ranging, detrimental effects on host reproduction and survival. These effects are best documented in humans and domestic animals, while only a few studies in wild mammals have identified both the forces that drive helminth infection risk and their costs to individual fitness. 2. Working in a well-studied population of wild baboons (Papio cynocephalus) in the Amboseli ecosystem in Kenya, we pursued two goals, to: (i) examine the costs of...

The only complete articulated early Miocene chameleon skull (Rusinga Island, Kenya) suggests an African origin for Madagascar’s endemic chameleons

Andrej Cernansky, Anthony Herrel, Job Kibii, Christopher Anderson, Renaud Boistel & Thomas Lehmann
We here present the first detailed study of the specimen KNM-RU 18340 from Rusinga Island (Kenya), the only known complete early Miocene chameleon skull, using micro-CT. This specimen represents one of the oldest chameleon fossils ever recovered. For the first time, the skull bone internal surfaces, their sutures, and elements contained inside the rocky matrix are observed. Our morphological comparisons and phylogenetic analyses place this specimen confidently in the genus Calumma and a new species,...

Female need for paternal care shapes variation in extra-pair paternity in a cooperative breeder

Laurence Cousseau, Dries Van De Loock, Mwangi Githiru, Carl Vangestel & Luc Lens
Socially-monogamous females regularly mate with males outside the pair bond. The prevailing explanation for this behavior is that females gain genetic benefits resulting from increased fitness of extra-pair offspring. Furthermore, because of the risk of reduced paternal care in response to cuckoldry, females are expected to seek extra-pair copulations when they can rear offspring with little help from their social partner (“constrained female” hypothesis). We tested these hypotheses and analyzed variation in paternal care in...

Data from: Covariation of diet and gut microbiome in African megafauna

Tyler R. Kartzinel, Julianna C. Hsing, Paul M. Musili, Bianca R. P. Brown & Robert M. Pringle
A major challenge in biology is to understand how phylogeny, diet, and environment shape the mammalian gut microbiome. Yet most studies of non-human microbiomes have relied on relatively coarse dietary categorizations and have focused either on individual wild populations or on captive animals that are sheltered from environmental pressures, which may obscure the effects of dietary and environmental variation on microbiome composition in diverse natural communities. We analyzed plant and bacterial DNA in fecal samples...

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  • National Museums of Kenya
  • Duke University
  • Princeton University
  • University of Wyoming
  • University of Antwerp
  • Ghent University
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Yale University
  • Mpala Research Center and Wildlife Foundation
  • Royal Zoological Society of Antwerp