Stacey Lindshield, who spends much of her research time in Senegal, studying chimpanzee behavior in their natural habitat, was awarded a NSF collaborative research grant to study “The Ecological Basis of Hunting and Meat Sharing in Female Savanna Chimpanzees.” The $610,000 grant, 61% will support Purdue work, reconsiders the origins of hunting in humans in view of recent findings regarding chimpanzee hunting behavior. Sexual selection theory and patterns of male-biased hunting and meat-eating for chimpanzees, some of our closest living relatives, have been traditionally integrated with models of human behavioral evolution. However, tool use and female-biased hunting are characteristics of savanna chimpanzees in Senegal. Hunting with tools may enable these females to routinely ingest and share meat on a seasonal basis without the need for being provisioned by males. This project precisely captures the effect of hunting with tools on diet and compares the weight of these findings to the causes and consequences of male-biased trends that characterize most chimpanzee groups studied today. This interdisciplinary study is a part of the HUNTRESS project on HUnting, Nutrition, Tool-use, Reproductive Ecology, and meat Sharing in Savanna chimpanzees to holistically assess female-biased hunting.
The HUNTRESS team combines behavioral, isotopic, nutritional, genetic, visual analytic, and geographic approaches to compare hunting and meat ingestion between females and males, and in relation to climate and food availability. This project increases capacity for chimpanzee research in Senegal by fully engaging with and supporting local partners and students. Furthermore, it is part of a long-term program that supports habitat preservation in Senegal for the critically-endangered western chimpanzee.
The members of the HUNTRESS project include Papa Ibnou Ndiaye (Université Cheikh Anta Diop), Jill Pruetz (Texas State University), Elizabeth Flaherty (Purdue University), Amy Reibman (Purdue University), and Leslie Knapp (University of Utah).