Kloss gibbon (Hylobates klossii) behavior facilitates the avoidance of human predation in the Peleonan forest, Siberut Island, Indonesia

Helen Dooley, Debra Judge

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    5 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Kloss gibbons (Hylobates klossii) are endemic to the Mentawai Islands in Indonesia and have been subject to human predation for more than 2000 years in the absence of any other significant predators. We investigate the behavior of Kloss gibbons that may be attributed to avoiding human predation. We observed Kloss gibbons in the Peleonan forest in the north of Siberut Island, the northernmost of the Mentawai island chain, over 18 months in 2007 and 2008, and collected data on their singing behavior, the number of individuals present during different conditions and their responses to humans. We examine behaviors that may reduce the risk of predation by humans during singing (the most conspicuous gibbon behavior), daily non-singing activities and encounters with humans. The individual risk of being stalked by hunters is reduced by singing in same-sex choruses and the risk of successful capture by hunters during singing is reduced by singing less often during daylight hours and by leaving the location of male pre-dawn singing before full light (reducing the visual signal to hunters). Groups in the Peleonan also fission during non-singing daily activity and rarely engage in play or grooming, enhancing the crypticity of their monochromatic black pelage in the canopy. We also observed a coordinated response to the presence of humans, wherein one adult individual acted as a "decoy" by approaching and distracting human observers, while other group members fled silently in multiple directions. "Decoy" behavior occurred on 31% of 96 encounters with unhabituated Kloss gibbons that detected our presence. "Decoy" individuals may put themselves at risk to increase the survival of related immatures (and adult females with infants) who have a greater risk of predation. We argue that, in combination, these behaviors are an evolved response to a long history of predation by humans. Am. J. Primatol. 77:296-308, 2015.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)296-308
    JournalAmerican Journal of Primatology
    Volume77
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2015

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