Simian immunodeficiency virus of chimpanzees (SIVcpz) is the immediate precursor to human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1), yet remarkably, the distribution and prevalence of SIVcpz in wild ape populations are unknown. Studies of SIVcpz infection rates in wild chimpanzees are complicated by the species' endangered status and by its geographic location in remote areas of sub-Saharan Africa. We have developed sensitive and specific urine and fecal tests for SIVcpz antibody and virion RNA (vRNA) detection and describe herein the first comprehensive prevalence study of SIVcpz infection in five wild Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii communities in east Africa. In Kibale National Park in Uganda, 31 (of 52) members of the Kanyawara community and 39 (of ∼145) members of the Ngogo community were studied; none were found to be positive for SIVcpz infection. In Gombe National Park in Tanzania, 15 (of 20) members of the Mitumba community, 51 (of 55) members of the Kasekela community, and at least 10 (of ∼20) members of the Kalande community were studied. Seven individuals were SIVcpz antibody and/or vRNA positive, and two others had indeterminate antibody results. Based on assay sensitivities and the numbers and types of specimens analyzed, we estimated the prevalence of SIVcpz infection to be 17% in Mitumba (95% confidence interval, 10 to 40%), 5% in Kasekela (95% confidence interval, 4 to 7%), and 30% in Kalande (95% confidence interval, 15 to 60%). For Gombe as a whole, the SIVcpz prevalence was estimated to be 13% (95% confidence interval, 7 to 25%). SIVcpz infection was confirmed in five chimpanzees by PCR amplification of partial pol and gp41/nef sequences which revealed a diverse group of viruses that formed a monophyletic lineage within the SIVcpzPts radiation. Although none of the 70 Kibale chimpanzees tested SIVcpz positive, we estimated the likelihood that a 10% or higher prevalence existed but went undetected because of sampling and assay limitations; this possibility was ruled out with 95% certainty. These results indicate that SIVcpz is unevenly distributed among P. t. schweinfurthii in east Africa, with foci or “hot spots” of SIVcpz endemicity in some communities and rare or absent infection in others. This situation contrasts with that for smaller monkey species, in which infection rates by related SIVs are generally much higher and more uniform among different groups and populations. The basis for the wide variability in SIVcpz infection rates in east African apes and the important question of SIVcpz prevalence in west central African chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes troglodytes) remain to be elucidated.
The adaptive function of copulation calls in female primates has been debated for years. One influential idea is that copulation calls are a sexually selected trait, which enables females to advertise their receptive state to males. Male-male competition ensues and females benefit by getting better mating partners and higher quality offspring. We analysed the copulation calling behaviour of wild female chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) at Budongo Forest, Uganda, but found no support for the male-male competition hypothesis. Hormone analysis showed that the calling behaviour of copulating females was unrelated to their fertile period and likelihood of conception. Instead, females called significantly more while with high-ranking males, but suppressed their calls if high-ranking females were nearby. Copulation calling may therefore be one potential strategy employed by female chimpanzees to advertise receptivity to high-ranked males, confuse paternity and secure future support from these socially important individuals. Competition between females can be dangerously high in wild chimpanzees, and our results indicate that females use their copulation calls strategically to minimise the risks associated with such competition.
For reasons that are not yet clear, male aggression against females occurs frequently among primates with promiscuous mating systems. Here, we test the sexual coercion hypothesis that male aggression functions to constrain female mate choice. We use 10 years of behavioural and endocrine data from a community of wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) to show that sexual coercion is the probable primary function of male aggression against females. Specifically, we show that male aggression is targeted towards the most fecund females, is associated with high male mating success and is costly for the victims. Such aggression can be viewed as a counter-strategy to female attempts at paternity confusion, and a cost of multi-male mating.
chimpanzee; sexual coercion; intersexual aggression; promiscuous mating; sexual selection; stress physiology
Malaria parasites (Plasmodium sp.), including new species, have recently been discovered as low grade mixed infections in three wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) sampled randomly in Kibale National Park, Uganda. This suggested a high prevalence of malaria infection in this community. The clinical course of malaria in chimpanzees and the species of the vectors that transmit their parasites are not known. The fact that these apes display a specific behaviour in which they consume plant parts of low nutritional value but that contain compounds with anti-malarial properties suggests that the apes health might be affected by the parasite. The avoidance of the night-biting anopheline mosquitoes is another potential behavioural adaptation that would lead to a decrease in the number of infectious bites and consequently malaria.
Mosquitoes were collected over two years using suction-light traps and yeast-generated CO2 traps at the nesting and the feeding sites of two chimpanzee communities in Kibale National Park. The species of the female Anopheles caught were then determined and the presence of Plasmodium was sought in these insects by PCR amplification.
The mosquito catches yielded a total of 309 female Anopheles specimens, the only known vectors of malaria parasites of mammalians. These specimens belonged to 10 species, of which Anopheles implexus, Anopheles vinckei and Anopheles demeilloni dominated. Sensitive DNA amplification techniques failed to detect any Plasmodium-positive Anopheles specimens. Humidity and trap height influenced the Anopheles capture success, and there was a negative correlation between nest numbers and mosquito abundance. The anopheline mosquitoes were also less diverse and numerous in sites where chimpanzees were nesting as compared to those where they were feeding.
These observations suggest that the sites where chimpanzees build their nests every night might be selected, at least in part, in order to minimize contact with anopheline mosquitoes, which might lead to a reduced risk in acquiring malaria infections.
Malaria; Chimpanzee; Anopheles; Plasmodium; Kibale National Park; Nesting behaviour
Chimpanzees in west central Africa (Pan troglodytes troglodytes) are endemically infected with simian immunodeficiency viruses (SIVcpzPtt) that have crossed the species barrier to humans and gorillas on at least five occasions, generating pandemic and nonpandemic forms of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) as well as gorilla SIV (SIVgor). Chimpanzees in east Africa (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) are also infected with SIVcpz; however, their viruses (SIVcpzPts) have never been found in humans. To examine whether this is due to a paucity of natural infections, we used noninvasive methods to screen wild-living eastern chimpanzees in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Uganda, and Rwanda. We also screened bonobos (Pan paniscus) in the DRC, a species not previously tested for SIV in the wild. Fecal samples (n = 3,108) were collected at 50 field sites, tested for species and subspecies origin, and screened for SIVcpz antibodies and nucleic acids. Of 2,565 samples from eastern chimpanzees, 323 were antibody positive and 92 contained viral RNA. The antibody-positive samples represented 76 individuals from 19 field sites, all sampled north of the Congo River in an area spanning 250,000 km2. In this region, SIVcpzPts was common and widespread, with seven field sites exhibiting infection rates of 30% or greater. The overall prevalence of SIVcpzPts infection was 13.4% (95% confidence interval, 10.7% to 16.5%). In contrast, none of the 543 bonobo samples from six sites was antibody positive. All newly identified SIVcpzPts strains clustered in strict accordance to their subspecies origin; however, they exhibited considerable genetic diversity, especially in protein domains known to be under strong host selection pressure. Thus, the absence of SIVcpzPts zoonoses cannot be explained by an insufficient primate reservoir. Instead, greater adaptive hurdles may have prevented the successful colonization of humans by P. t. schweinfurthii viruses.
Naked mole-rat colonies exhibit a high reproductive skew, breeding being typically restricted to one female (the 'queen') and one to three males. Other colony members are reproductively suppressed, although this suppression can be reversed following the removal or death of the queen. We examined dominance and queen succession within captive colonies to investigate the relationship between urinary testosterone and cortisol, dominance rank and reproductive status; and to determine if behavioural and/or physiological parameters can be used as predictors of queen succession. Social structure was characterized by a linear dominance hierarchy before and after queen removal. Prior to queen removal, dominance rank was negatively correlated with body weight and urinary testosterone and cortisol titres in males and females. Queen removal results in social instability and aggression between high ranking individuals. Dominance rank appears to be a good predictor of reproductive status: queens are the highest ranking colony females and are succeeded by the next highest ranking females. The intense dominance-related aggression that accompanies reproductive succession in naked mole-rats provides empirical support for optimal skew theory.
Current knowledge of the genetic diversity of simian immunodeficiency virus (SIVcpz) infection of wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) is incomplete since few isolates, mostly from captive apes from Cameroon and Gabon, have been characterized; yet this information is critical for understanding the origins of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) and the circumstances leading to the HIV-1 pandemic. Here, we report the first full-length SIVcpz sequence (TAN1) from a wild chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) from Gombe National Park (Tanzania), which was obtained noninvasively by amplification of virion RNA from fecal samples collected under field conditions. Using reverse transcription-PCR and a combination of generic and strain-specific primers, we amplified 13 subgenomic fragments which together spanned the entire TAN1 genome (9,326 bp). Distance and phylogenetic tree analyses identified TAN1 unambiguously as a member of the HIV-1/SIVcpz group of viruses but also revealed an extraordinary degree of divergence from all previously characterized SIVcpz and HIV-1 strains. In Gag, Pol, and Env proteins, TAN1 differed from west-central African SIVcpz and HIV-1 strains on average by 36, 30, and 51% of amino acid sequences, respectively, approaching distance values typically found for SIVs from different primate species. The closest relative was SIVcpzANT, also from a P. t. schweinfurthii ape, which differed by 30, 25, and 44%, respectively, in these same protein sequences but clustered with TAN1 in all major coding regions in a statistically highly significant manner. These data indicate that east African chimpanzees, like those from west-central Africa, are naturally infected by SIVcpz but that their viruses comprise a second, divergent SIVcpz lineage which appears to have evolved in relative isolation for an extended period of time. Our data also demonstrate that noninvasive molecular epidemiological studies of SIVcpz in wild chimpanzees are feasible and that such an approach may prove essential for unraveling the evolutionary history of SIVcpz/HIV-1 as well as that of other pathogens naturally infecting wild primate populations.
Numerous studies have examined the effects of anthropogenic endocrine disrupting compounds; however, very little is known about the effects of naturally occurring plant-produced estrogenic compounds (i.e., phytoestrogens) on vertebrates. To examine the seasonal pattern of phytoestrogen consumption and its relationship to hormone levels (407 fecal samples analyzed for estradiol and cortisol) and social behavior (aggression, mating, and grooming) in a primate, we conducted an 11-month field study of red colobus (Procolobus rufomitratus) in Kibale National Park, Uganda. The percent of diet from estrogenic plants averaged 10.7% (n = 45 weeks; range: 0.7 – 32.4%). Red colobus fed more heavily on estrogenic Millettia dura young leaves during weeks of higher rainfall, and the consumption of this estrogenic item was positively correlated to both their fecal estradiol and cortisol levels. Social behaviors were related to estradiol and cortisol levels, as well as the consumption of estrogenic plants and rainfall. The more the red colobus consumed estrogenic plants the higher their rates of aggression and copulation and the lower their time spent grooming. Our results suggest that the consumption of estrogenic plants has important implications for primate health and fitness through interactions with the endocrine system and changes in hormone levels and social behaviors.
estradiol; cortisol; environmental endocrinology; herbivory; mating; phytoestrogen; aggression; Kibale National Park; grooming; legume
Naked mole-rat colonies are societies with a high reproductive skew, breeding being restricted to one dominant female (the 'queen') and 1-3 males. Other colony members of both sexes are reproductively suppressed. Experimental removal of breeding males allowed us to investigate the relationship between urinary testosterone and cortisol, dominance rank, and male reproductive status. Dominance rank was strongly correlated with body weight, age, and urinary testosterone titres in males. No relationship between urinary cortisol levels and male reproductive status or dominance was found. Breeding males were among the highest-ranking, heaviest and oldest males in their respective colonies, and were succeeded by other high-ranking, large, old colony males. In contrast to females, no evidence of competition over breeding status was observed among males. Male-male agonism was low both before and after removal of breeders and mate guarding was not observed. The lower reproductive skew for males compared with female skew or queen control over male reproduction may explain why males compete less strongly than females over breeding status after removal of same-sexed breeders.
Among factors affecting animal health, environmental influences may directly or indirectly impact host nutritional condition, fecundity, and their degree of parasitism. Our closest relatives, the great apes, are all endangered and particularly sensitive to infectious diseases. Both chimpanzees and western gorillas experience large seasonal variations in fruit availability but only western gorillas accordingly show large changes in their degree of frugivory. The aim of this study is to investigate and compare factors affecting health (through records of clinical signs, urine, and faecal samples) of habituated wild ape populations: a community (N = 46 individuals) of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) in Kanyawara, Kibale National Park (Uganda), and a western gorilla (G. gorilla) group (N = 13) in Bai Hokou in the Dzanga-Ndoki National Park (Central African Republic). Ape health monitoring was carried out in the wet and dry seasons (chimpanzees: July–December 2006; gorillas: April–July 2008 and December 2008–February 2009). Compared to chimpanzees, western gorillas were shown to have marginally greater parasite diversity, higher prevalence and intensity of both parasite and urine infections, and lower occurrence of diarrhea and wounds. Parasite infections (prevalence and load), but not abnormal urine parameters, were significantly higher during the dry season of the study period for western gorillas, who thus appeared more affected by the large temporal changes in the environment in comparison to chimpanzees. Infant gorillas were the most susceptible among all the age/sex classes (of both apes) having much more intense infections and urine blood concentrations, again during the dry season. Long term studies are needed to confirm the influence of seasonal factors on health and parasitism of these great apes. However, this study suggest climate change and forest fragmentation leading to potentially larger seasonal fluctuations of the environment may affect patterns of ape parasitism and further exacerbate health impacts on great ape populations that live in highly seasonal habitats.
Simian foamy viruses (SFVs) are thought to infect virtually any adult nonhuman primate (NHP). While many data have accumulated about patterns of codivergence with their hosts and cross-species transmission events, little is known about the modalities of SFV transmission within NHP species, especially in the wild. Here we provide a detailed investigation of the dynamics of SFV circulation in a wild community of Western chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus). We demonstrate that mother-offspring (vertical) SFV transmission is common and hypothesize that it accounts for a number of primary infections. We also show that multiple infections with several chimpanzee-specific SFV strains (i.e., superinfection) commonly happen in adult chimpanzees, which might point to adult-specific aggressive behaviors as a lifelong source of SFV infection. Our data give evidence for complex SFV dynamics in wild chimpanzees, even at a single community scale, and show that linking wild NHP social interactions and their microorganisms' dynamics is feasible.
Simian immunodeficiency virus of chimpanzees (SIVcpz) has a significant negative impact on the health, reproduction, and life span of chimpanzees, yet the prevalence and distribution of this virus in wild-living populations are still only poorly understood. Here, we show that savanna chimpanzees, who live in ecologically marginal habitats at 10- to 50-fold lower population densities than forest chimpanzees, can be infected with SIVcpz at high prevalence rates. Fecal samples were collected from nonhabituated eastern chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) in the Issa Valley (n = 375) and Shangwa River (n = 6) areas of the Masito-Ugalla region in western Tanzania, genotyped to determine the number of sampled individuals, and tested for SIVcpz-specific antibodies and nucleic acids. None of 5 Shangwa River apes tested positive for SIVcpz; however, 21 of 67 Issa Valley chimpanzees were SIVcpz infected, indicating a prevalence rate of 31% (95% confidence interval, 21% to 44%). Two individuals became infected during the 14-month observation period, documenting continuing virus spread in this community. To characterize the newly identified SIVcpz strains, partial and full-length viral sequences were amplified from fecal RNA of 10 infected chimpanzees. Phylogenetic analyses showed that the Ugalla viruses formed a monophyletic lineage most closely related to viruses endemic in Gombe National Park, also located in Tanzania, indicating a connection between these now separated communities at some time in the past. These findings document that SIVcpz is more widespread in Tanzania than previously thought and that even very low-density chimpanzee populations can be infected with SIVcpz at high prevalence rates. Determining whether savanna chimpanzees, who face much more extreme environmental conditions than forest chimpanzees, are more susceptible to SIVcpz-associated morbidity and mortality will have important scientific and conservation implications.
In nonhuman primate social groups, biological differences related to social status have proven useful in investigating mechanisms of sensitivity to various disease states. Physiological and neurobiological differences between dominant and subordinate monkeys have been interpreted in the context of chronic social stress. The present experiments were designed to investigate the relationships between basal cortisol and testosterone concentrations and the establishment and maintenance of the social hierarchy in male cynomolgus monkeys. Cortisol concentrations were measured at baseline and following suppression with dexamethasone (DEX) and subsequent administration of ACTH while monkeys were individually housed (n=20) and after 3 months of social housing (n=4/group), by which time dominance hierarchies had stabilised. Cortisol was also measured during the initial three days of social housing. Neither pre-social housing hormone concentrations nor HPA axis sensitivity predicted eventual social rank. During initial social housing, cortisol concentrations were significantly higher in monkeys that eventually became subordinate; this effect dissipated within three days. During the 12 weeks of social housing, aggressive and submissive behaviours were observed consistently, forming the basis for assignment of social ranks. At this time, basal testosterone and cortisol concentrations were significantly higher in dominant monkeys and, following dexamethasone suppression, cortisol release in response to a challenge injection of ACTH was significantly greater in subordinates. These results indicate that basal cortisol and testosterone concentrations and HPA axis function are state variables that differentially reflect position in the dominance hierarchy, rather than trait variables that predict future social status.
cortisol; dexamethasone suppression; dominance hierarchy; testosterone; nonhuman primates
The transmission of simian immunodeficiency and Ebola viruses to humans in recent years has heightened awareness of the public health significance of zoonotic diseases of primate origin, particularly from chimpanzees. In this study, we analyzed 71 fecal samples collected from 2 different wild chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) populations with different histories in relation to their proximity to humans. Campylobacter spp. were detected by culture in 19/56 (34%) group 1 (human habituated for research and tourism purposes at Mahale Mountains National Park) and 0/15 (0%) group 2 (not human habituated but propagated from an introduced population released from captivity over 30 years ago at Rubondo Island National Park) chimpanzees, respectively. Using 16S rRNA gene sequencing, all isolates were virtually identical (at most a single base difference), and the chimpanzee isolates were most closely related to Campylobacter helveticus and Campylobacter upsaliensis (94.7% and 95.9% similarity, respectively). Whole-cell protein profiling, amplified fragment length polymorphism analysis of genomic DNA, hsp60 sequence analysis, and determination of the mol% G+C content revealed two subgroups among the chimpanzee isolates. DNA-DNA hybridization experiments confirmed that both subgroups represented distinct genomic species. In the absence of differential biochemical characteristics and morphology and identical 16S rRNA gene sequences, we propose to classify all isolates into a single novel nomenspecies, Campylobacter troglodytis, with strain MIT 05-9149 as the type strain; strain MIT 05-9157 is suggested as the reference strain for the second C. troglodytis genomovar. Further studies are required to determine whether the organism is pathogenic to chimpanzees and whether this novel Campylobacter colonizes humans and causes enteric disease.
Data on the evolution of natural SIV infection in chimpanzees (SIVcpz) and on the impact of SIV on local ape populations are only available for Eastern African chimpanzee subspecies (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii), and no data exist for Central chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes troglodytes), the natural reservoir of the ancestors of HIV-1 in humans. Here, we report a case of naturally-acquired SIVcpz infection in a P.t.troglodytes chimpanzee with clinical and biological data and analysis of viral evolution over the course of infection.
A male chimpanzee (Cam155), 1.5 years, was seized in southern Cameroon in November 2003 and screened SIV positive during quarantine. Clinical follow-up and biological analyses have been performed for 7 years and showed a significant decline of CD4 counts (1,380 cells/mm3 in 2004 vs 287 in 2009), a severe thrombocytopenia (130,000 cells/mm3 in 2004 vs 5,000 cells/mm3 in 2009), a weight loss of 21.8% from August 2009 to January 2010 (16 to 12.5 kg) and frequent periods of infections with diverse pathogens.
DNA from PBMC, leftover from clinical follow-up samples collected in 2004 and 2009, was used to amplify overlapping fragments and sequence two full-length SIVcpzPtt-Cam155 genomes. SIVcpzPtt-Cam155 was phylogenetically related to other SIVcpzPtt from Cameroon (SIVcpzPtt-Cam13) and Gabon (SIVcpzPtt-Gab1). Ten molecular clones 5 years apart, spanning the V1V4 gp120 env region (1,100 bp), were obtained. Analyses of the env region showed positive selection (dN-dS >0), intra-host length variation and extensive amino acid diversity between clones, greater in 2009. Over 5 years, N-glycosylation site frequency significantly increased (p < 0.0001).
Here, we describe for the first time the clinical history and viral evolution of a naturally SIV infected P.t.troglodytes chimpanzee. The findings show an increasing viral diversity over time and suggest clinical progression to an AIDS-like disease, showing that SIVcpz can be pathogenic in its host, as previously described in P.t.schweinfurthii. Although studying the impact of SIV infection in wild apes is difficult, efforts should be made to better characterize the pathogenicity of the ancestors of HIV-1 in their natural host and to find out whether SIV infection also plays a role in ape population decline.
Dominance status and reproductive experience are maternal characteristics that affect offspring traits in diverse taxa, including some cercopithecine primates. Maternal effects of this sort are widespread and are sources of variability in offspring fitness. We tested the hypothesis that maternal dominance rank and reproductive experience as well as a male’s own age and dominance rank predicted chronic fecal glucocorticoid (fGC) concentrations in 17 subadult wild male baboons, Papio cynocephalus (median age 6.5 years), in the Amboseli basin, Kenya. Among these variables, maternal dominance rank at a subadult male’s conception was the sole significant predictor of the male’s fGC and accounted for 42% of fGC variance; sons of lower ranking mothers had higher fGC than did those of high ranking mothers. This result is striking because subadult male baboons are approximately 4–6 years past the period of infant dependence on their mothers, and are larger than and dominant to all adult females. In addition, many males of this age have survived their mothers’ death. Consequently, the influence of maternal dominance rank persisted well beyond the stage at which direct maternal influence on sons is likely. Persistence of these major maternal influences from the perinatal period may signal organizational effects of mothers on sons’ HPA axis. Although short-term, acute, elevations in GC are part of adaptive responses to challenges such as predators and other emergencies, chronically elevated GC are often associated with stress-related pathologies and, thereby, adverse effects on fitness components.
baboon; glucocorticoids; maternal effects; dominance rank; Papio
The evolution of the red-green visual subsystem in trichromatic primates has been linked to foraging advantages, specifically the detection of either ripe fruits or young leaves amid mature foliage, and to the intraspecific socio-sexual communication, namely the signal of the male rank, the mate choice and the reproductive strategies in females. New data should be added to the debate regarding the evolution of trichromatic color vision. Three catarrhine primates were observed to achieve this goal. The research was performed on captive groups of vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus aethiops), pig-tailed macaques (Macaca nemestrina) and chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) housed at Parco Natura Viva - Garda Zoological Park (Italy). Using pairs of red-green bags containing the same hidden reward in comparable outdoor enclosures, we recorded the choices by observed individuals (n = 25) to investigate the role of color cues in choosing an object. The results indicate that chimpanzees used red color as cue to choose an object that contains food by showing a preference toward red objects; in contrast, vervet monkeys and pig-tailed macaques do not demonstrate a clear choice based on the color of the object. Our findings highlight the importance of the foraging hypothesis but not rule out the potential role of the intraspecific socio-sexual communication and may serve to add useful information to the debate regarding the adaptive value of the evolution of color vision in order to fill a phylogenetic gap from Old World monkeys to humans. Future studies should address the role of socio-sexual communication, such as the selection of the reproductive partner of both high genetic quality and with compatible genes, to determine how this influenced the evolution of color vision in non-human primates.
trichromacy; red-green color preference; vervet monkey; pig-tailed macaque; chimpanzee
During a population decline or disease outbreak, the true risk of specific diseases to a wild population is often difficult to determine because of a lack of baseline disease information. To better understand the risk of disease in an endangered and scientifically important population of chimpanzees (Pan trogylodytes schweinfurthii), a health monitoring program was initiated in Gombe National Park, Tanzania. As part of this health monitoring program, comprehensive necropsies with histopathology were conducted on chimpanzees (n =11; 5 male, 6 female), ranging in age from fetal to 44 yr, that were found dead between August 2004 and January 2010. In contrast to previous reports, respiratory disease was not noted as a cause of morbidity or mortality. Trauma was the most common cause of death in these 11 chimpanzees. All of the chimpanzees greater than 1 yr of age had intestinal and mesenteric parasitic granulomas associated with true strongyles consistent with Oesophagostomum spp. The relative numbers of granulomas increased with age and, in some cases, may have been a cause of weight loss and diarrhea. Simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV)cpz infection was documented in four deceased apes, all of whom exhibited varying amounts of lymphoid depletion including two females with marked CD4+ T cell loss consistent with end-stage SIVmac or human immunodeficiency virus infections. Myocardial megalokaryosis was common in chimpanzees greater than 1 mo of age; yet myocardial interstitial fibrosis, a common lesion in captive chimpanzees, was uncommon and only noted in two aged chimpanzees. These findings provide important information on causes of morbidity and mortality in wild chimpanzees, information that can be used to interpret findings during population declines and lead to better management of this population in the context of disease risk.
Chimpanzee; pathology; Oesophagostomum spp; simian immunodeficiency virus; Gombe National Park
In social hierarchies, dominant individuals experience reproductive and health benefits, but the costs of social dominance remain a topic of debate. Prevailing hypotheses predict that higher-ranking males experience higher testosterone and glucocorticoid (stress hormone) levels than lower-ranking males when hierarchies are unstable but not otherwise. In this long-term study of rank-related stress in a natural population of savannah baboons (Papio cynocephalus), high-ranking males had higher testosterone and lower glucocorticoid levels than other males, regardless of hierarchy stability. The singular exception was the highest-ranking (alpha) males, who exhibited both high testosterone and high glucocorticoid levels. In particular, alpha males exhibited much higher stress hormone levels than second-ranking (beta) males, suggesting that being at the very top may be more costly than previously thought.
The male-specific regions of the Y chromosome (MSY) of the human and the chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) are fully sequenced. The most striking difference is the dramatic rearrangement of large parts of their respective MSYs. These non-recombining regions include ampliconic gene families that are known to be important for male reproduction,and are consequently under significant selective pressure. However, whether the published Y-chromosomal pattern of ampliconic fertility genes is invariable within P. troglodytes is an open but fundamental question pertinent to discussions of the evolutionary fate of the Y chromosome in different primate mating systems. To solve this question we applied fluorescence in situ hybridisation (FISH) of testis-specific expressed ampliconic fertility genes to metaphase Y chromosomes of 17 chimpanzees derived from 11 wild-born males and 16 bonobos representing seven wild-born males. We show that of eleven P. troglodytes Y-chromosomal lines, ten Y-chromosomal variants were detected based on the number and arrangement of the ampliconic fertility genes DAZ (deleted in azoospermia) and CDY (chromodomain protein Y)—a so-far never-described variation of a species' Y chromosome. In marked contrast, no variation was evident among seven Y-chromosomal lines of the bonobo, P. paniscus, the chimpanzee's closest living relative. Although, loss of variation of the Y chromosome in the bonobo by a founder effect or genetic drift cannot be excluded, these contrasting patterns might be explained in the context of the species' markedly different social and mating behaviour. In chimpanzees, multiple males copulate with a receptive female during a short period of visible anogenital swelling, and this may place significant selection on fertility genes. In bonobos, however, female mate choice may make sperm competition redundant (leading to monomorphism of fertility genes), since ovulation in this species is concealed by the prolonged anogenital swelling, and because female bonobos can occupy high-ranking positions in the group and are thus able to determine mate choice more freely.
Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) are often used in movies, commercials and print advertisements with the intention of eliciting a humorous response from audiences. The portrayal of chimpanzees in unnatural, human-like situations may have a negative effect on the public's understanding of their endangered status in the wild while making them appear as suitable pets. Alternatively, media content that elicits a positive emotional response toward chimpanzees may increase the public's commitment to chimpanzee conservation. To test these competing hypotheses, participants (n = 165) watched a series of commercials in an experiment framed as a marketing study. Imbedded within the same series of commercials was one of three chimpanzee videos. Participants either watched 1) a chimpanzee conservation commercial, 2) commercials containing “entertainment” chimpanzees or 3) control footage of the natural behavior of wild chimpanzees. Results from a post-viewing questionnaire reveal that participants who watched the conservation message understood that chimpanzees were endangered and unsuitable as pets at higher levels than those viewing the control footage. Meanwhile participants watching commercials with entertainment chimpanzees showed a decrease in understanding relative to those watching the control footage. In addition, when participants were given the opportunity to donate part of their earnings from the experiment to a conservation charity, donations were least frequent in the group watching commercials with entertainment chimpanzees. Control questions show that participants did not detect the purpose of the study. These results firmly support the hypothesis that use of entertainment chimpanzees in the popular media negatively distorts the public's perception and hinders chimpanzee conservation efforts.
Many studies have examined the long-term effects of selective logging on the abundance and diversity of free-ranging primates. Logging is known to reduce the abundance of some primate species through associated hunting and the loss of food trees for frugivores; however, the potential role of pathogens in such primate population declines is largely unexplored. Selective logging results in a suite of alterations in host ecology and forest structure that may alter pathogen dynamics in resident wildlife populations. In addition, environmental pollution with human fecal material may present a risk for wildlife infections with zoonotic protozoa, such as Cryptosporidium and Giardia. To better understand this interplay, we compared patterns of infection with these potentially pathogenic protozoa in sympatric western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) and chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes troglodytes) in the undisturbed Goualougo Triangle of Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park and the adjacent previously logged Kabo Concession in northern Republic of Congo. No Cryptosporidium infections were detected in any of the apes examined and prevalence of infection with Giardia was low (3.73% overall) and did not differ between logged and undisturbed forest for chimpanzees or gorillas. These results provide a baseline for prevalence of these protozoa in forest-dwelling African apes and suggest that low-intensity logging may not result in long-term elevated prevalence of potentially pathogenic protozoa.
Cryptosporidium; disease ecology; disturbance ecology; Giardia; zoonoses
Here, we report the sequencing and analysis of eight complete mitochondrial genomes of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) from each of the three established subspecies (P. t. troglodytes, P. t. schweinfurthii and P. t. verus) and the proposed fourth subspecies (P. t. ellioti). Our population genetic analyses are consistent with neutral patterns of evolution that have been shaped by demography. The high levels of mtDNA diversity in western chimpanzees are unlike those seen at nuclear loci, which may reflect a demographic history of greater female to male effective population sizes possibly owing to the characteristics of the founding population. By using relaxed-clock methods, we have inferred a timetree of chimpanzee species and subspecies. The absolute divergence times vary based on the methods and calibration used, but relative divergence times show extensive uniformity. Overall, mtDNA produces consistently older times than those known from nuclear markers, a discrepancy that is reduced significantly by explicitly accounting for chimpanzee population structures in time estimation. Assuming the human–chimpanzee split to be between 7 and 5 Ma, chimpanzee time estimates are 2.1–1.5, 1.1–0.76 and 0.25–0.18 Ma for the chimpanzee/bonobo, western/(eastern + central) and eastern/central chimpanzee divergences, respectively.
mitochondrial genome; Pan troglodytes; Pan paniscus; divergence time
Identifying microbial pathogens with zoonotic potential in wild-living primates can be important to human health, as evidenced by human immunodeficiency viruses types 1 and 2 (HIV-1 and HIV-2) and Ebola virus. Simian foamy viruses (SFVs) are ancient retroviruses that infect Old and New World monkeys and apes. Although not known to cause disease, these viruses are of public health interest because they have the potential to infect humans and thus provide a more general indication of zoonotic exposure risks. Surprisingly, no information exists concerning the prevalence, geographic distribution, and genetic diversity of SFVs in wild-living monkeys and apes. Here, we report the first comprehensive survey of SFVcpz infection in free-ranging chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) using newly developed, fecal-based assays. Chimpanzee fecal samples (n = 724) were collected at 25 field sites throughout equatorial Africa and tested for SFVcpz-specific antibodies (n = 706) or viral nucleic acids (n = 392). SFVcpz infection was documented at all field sites, with prevalence rates ranging from 44% to 100%. In two habituated communities, adult chimpanzees had significantly higher SFVcpz infection rates than infants and juveniles, indicating predominantly horizontal rather than vertical transmission routes. Some chimpanzees were co-infected with simian immunodeficiency virus (SIVcpz); however, there was no evidence that SFVcpz and SIVcpz were epidemiologically linked. SFVcpz nucleic acids were recovered from 177 fecal samples, all of which contained SFVcpz RNA and not DNA. Phylogenetic analysis of partial gag (616 bp), pol-RT (717 bp), and pol-IN (425 bp) sequences identified a diverse group of viruses, which could be subdivided into four distinct SFVcpz lineages according to their chimpanzee subspecies of origin. Within these lineages, there was evidence of frequent superinfection and viral recombination. One chimpanzee was infected by a foamy virus from a Cercopithecus monkey species, indicating cross-species transmission of SFVs in the wild. These data indicate that SFVcpz (i) is widely distributed among all chimpanzee subspecies; (ii) is shed in fecal samples as viral RNA; (iii) is transmitted predominantly by horizontal routes; (iv) is prone to superinfection and recombination; (v) has co-evolved with its natural host; and (vi) represents a sensitive marker of population structure that may be useful for chimpanzee taxonomy and conservation strategies.
Cross-species transmissions of infectious agents from primates to humans have led to major disease outbreaks, with AIDS representing a particularly serious example. It has recently been shown that humans who hunt primates frequently acquire simian foamy virus (SFV) infections. Thus, these viruses have been proposed as an “early warning system” of human exposure to wild primates. In this study, we have tested this concept by developing non-invasive methods to determine the extent to which wild chimpanzees are infected with SFV. We analyzed more than 700 fecal samples from 25 chimpanzee communities across sub-Saharan Africa and obtained viral sequences from a large number of these. SFV was widespread among all chimpanzee subspecies, with infection rates ranging from 44% to 100%. The new viruses formed subspecies-specific lineages consistent with virus/host co-evolution. We also found mosaic sequences due to recombination, indicating that chimpanzees can be infected with multiple viral strains. One chimpanzee harbored an SFV from a monkey species, indicating cross-species transmission in the wild. These data indicate that chimpanzees represent a substantial natural reservoir of SFV. Thus, monitoring humans for these viruses should identify locations where human/chimpanzee encounters are most frequent, and where additional transmissions of chimpanzee pathogens should be anticipated.
Fertility is an important fitness component, but is difficult to measure in slowly reproducing, long-lived animals such as chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes).We measured fertility and the effect of measured covariates on fertility in a 43-year sample of birth intervals of chimpanzees from the Gombe National Park, Tanzania using Cox proportional hazards regression with individual-level random effects.The birth hazard declined with mothers’ age at a rate of 0·84 per year following age at first reproduction. This value is somewhat stronger than previous estimates.Loss of the infant that opened the birth interval increased the birth hazard 134-fold.Birth intervals following the first complete birth interval were shorter than this first interval, while sex of the previous infant had no significant effect.Maternal dominance rank was significant at the P < 0·1 level when coded as high/middle/low but was highly significant when we simply considered high rank vs. others.Individual heterogeneity had a substantial impact on birth interval duration. We interpret this individual effect as a measure of phenotypic quality, controlling for the measured covariates such as dominance rank. This interpretation is supported by the correlation of individual heterogeneity scores with similar independent measures of body mass.
chimpanzee; demography; fertility; life-history theory; phenotypic quality