Macaca fascicularis; Human-primate commensalism; coexistence; anthropic impact; behavioral ecology; Bali
[en] Coexistence between humans and wildlife is one of the major challenge to biodiversity conservation in the onset of this new millennium. In addition to the development of protected areas providing refuges for wildlife populations, another option relies on the sharing of space, i.e., tolerating wildlife living alongside human populations in non-protected interface zones. During the last century, massive human encroachment into wildlife natural habitat has led to an increasing number of worldwide interface zones and a consecutive intensification of the human-wildlife conflict which is likely to escalate further as human populations rapidly expand. However, conflict does not account for all the scenarios since diverse forms of interaction between humans and wildlife exist. The human-nonhuman primate commensalism is one of these possible interspecies associations. Commensal (or synanthropic) primates are free-ranging populations ecologically associated with humans in anthropogenic habitats and taking advantage of human food, waste or crops to supplement their diet.
In Bali, Indonesia, humans and long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) already have a long history of coexistence. The forest-agricultural matrix landscape of the island and the numerous religious Hindu temples provide habitat patches for macaques sometimes living in very close proximity to humans. The opportunistic style of this species enables it to exploit numerous habitat types. However little is known about the ways anthropic factors impact its behavioral ecology. Our intention was to conduct a comparative study which would investigate whether anthropic factors were potential drivers of the behavioral ecology and population dynamics of Balinese macaques.
During a two-year period in the field (between 2009 and 2013), using a protocol including three populations of Balinese macaques made of ten social groups, we documented variations in the activity, dietary, ranging and demographic patterns between populations. We systematically investigated the anthropogenic influences (i.e. human food provisioning degree and habitat anthropization level) on those variations, and we questioned the biological significance of the responses in terms of costs and benefits. While daily following each social group of macaques, we collected spatial, behavioral and botanical data, and we further conducted bi-annual demographic census in order to estimate the status and demographic trends of the study groups. Finally, our interest was to link our results with applied concerns regarding the management of these populations interacting with humans, while taking into account the implications of these interactions from the human point of view.
We found a remarkable eco-behavioral diversity between our studied populations. Human food was a central component of their ecology, macaques preferentially exploiting this resource when available while retaining their abilities to forage on natural resources. The inclination for human food was optimal for macaques as it maximized their energy intake while minimizing the time expended for food acquisition. Therefore, they adjusted their activity budget according to the proportions of human food consumed. The free time available from relaxed foraging constraints was invested into resting and social activities. Macaques were flexible in their movements, making them successful in exploiting natural forest areas as well as highly anthropogenic habitats. However, increased social tension was a cost that stemmed from high-density situations induced by excessive anthropization of their habitat.
We showed that, although predation risk partially influenced the selection of sleeping trees, proximity to human settlements appeared to be the most influential factor in the essential process of sleeping site choice by long-tailed macaques living at the edge of the forest and anthropogenic zones.
Demographic data provide essential information to assess the status of a population and the long-term impacts of human pressures. Overall, our three studied populations displayed good reproductive performances and positive growth rates, probably due to the human food consumed. Indeed, we showed that the human food abundance in tourist sites may have diminished the density-dependence mechanism on macaques’ birth rates, to eventually inflate the size of populations. When combined with a high level of habitat anthropization, these effects have led to high local densities and even overcrowded situations with associated costs regarding within and between-group social tension and epidemic risks. In this framework, we documented the demographic and social impacts of a Streptococcus outbreak which occurred in the Ubud population in 2012. The pre- and post-epidemic study showed that macaques modified their social dynamics following a significant mortality in certain groups. This study emphasized the role of pathogens in regulating primate populations living in zones of interface with humans.
Our research also contributed to identify solutions regarding management of these populations increasingly interacting with humans in Bali. We notably provided preliminary evidence that vasectomy, as sterilization technique to control for overpopulation, had no negative side-effects on social and sexual behaviors of male macaques. Finally, we assessed the effect of a ten-year management regime at the Ubud Monkey Forest, using an ethnoprimatological approach. We showed that the aggressiveness of macaques towards visitors had been effectively reduced and the high tolerance of local people towards macaques was determined by economic and cultural benefits deriving from the macaque presence. However, we also identified men and adult or subadult male macaques as the most exposed groups to a potential risk of cross-species pathogen transmission given the frequency of close physical contact interactions at this site.
Author, co-author :
Brotcorne, Fany ; Université de Liège - ULiège > Biology, Ecology and Evolution > Behavioural Biology Unit - Primatology Research Group
Behavioral ecology and commensal long-tailed macaque (Macaca fascicularis) populations in Bali, Indonesia: impact of anthropic factors
Alternative titles :
[en] Ecologie comportementale des populations commensales de macaques à longue queue (Macaca fascicularis): impact des facteurs anthropiques
Defense date :
23 September 2014
Number of pages :
ULiège - Université de Liège [Sciences]
Docteur en Sciences
Poncin, Pascal ; Université de Liège - ULiège > Station scientifique des Hautes-Fagnes
Huynen, Marie-Claude ; Université de Liège - ULiège > Département de Biologie, Ecologie et Evolution > Biologie du comportement - Ethologie et psychologie animale
Sérusiaux, Emmanuël ; Université de Liège - ULiège > Département de Biologie, Ecologie et Evolution > Océanographie biologique
Jury member :
Vandenheede, Marc ; Université de Liège - ULiège > Fundamental and Applied Research for Animals and Health (FARAH) > FARAH: Productions animales durables
Vermeulen, Cédric ; Université de Liège - ULiège > Département GxABT > Gestion des ressources forestières et des milieux naturels