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Department of Social Sciences
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
Matt's research concerns interactions between humans and wildlife and conservation outside of Protected Areas, and how animals respond to human-driven landscape changes. He is particularly interested in coexistence between great apes and humans in Africa and great ape behavioural ecology. Since 2006 he has studied chimpanzees in unprotected forest fragments in an agricultural landscape at Bulindi, western Uganda. Matt is a member of the IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group.
Wild animals increasingly inhabit human-influenced environments such as forest fragments amid agricultural systems. Dietary studies provide a means of assessing wildlife responses to anthropogenic habitat changes. Chimpanzees are specialist frugivores that consume other plant parts, e.g., fibrous pith and leaves, in greater amounts during fruit shortages. I examined the plant diet and seasonal foraging strategies of chimpanzees inhabiting small forest fragments within a cultivated landscape in Uganda. I determined diet over 13 mo via systematic fecal analysis, supplemented by direct observation and feeding trace evidence. I identified important foods and examined their role as seasonal fallbacks. Diet composition and breadth were overall species typical. Chimpanzees were highly frugivorous and the fruit component of fecal samples exceeded that of nonfruit fiber in all months. Forest fruit availability fluctuated seasonally, including a 3-mo low fruiting season, when overall fruit intake declined. During this time chimpanzees pursued a mixed strategy of increasing fiber consumption and feeding more heavily on energy-rich cultivars, including those obtained through crop raiding. The data suggest that exploiting agricultural fruits helped chimpanzees maintain a fruit-dominated diet when forest fruit was scarce. No evidence suggested this disturbed forest–farm mosaic is a food-impoverished habitat for chimpanzees overall. Nevertheless, cultivar feeding creates conflict with people and the high nutritional quality of crops is likely offset by the inherent risk associated with obtaining them. This study adds to growing evidence of ecological and behavioral adaptability of Pan troglodytes in response to anthropogenic habitat alteration. Targeted conservation of key natural foods for wildlife —particularly fallbacks— would help reduce conflicts and improve the survival prospects of threatened species sharing environments with people.
To predict the distribution of suitable environmental conditions (SEC) for eight African great ape taxa for a first time period, the 1990s and then project it to a second time period, the 2000s; to assess the relative importance of factors influencing SEC distribution and to estimate rates of SEC loss, isolation and fragmentation over the last two decades.
Twenty-two African great ape range countries.
We extracted 15,051 presence localities collected between 1995 and 2010 from 68 different areas surveyed across the African ape range. We combined a maximum entropy algorithm and logistic regression to relate ape presence information to environmental and human impact variables from the 1990s with a resolution of 5 × 5 km across the entire ape range. We then made SEC projections for the 2000s using updated human impact variables.
Total SEC area was approximately 2,015,480 and 1,807,653 km2 in the 1990s and 2000s, respectively. Loss of predicted SEC appeared highest for Cross River gorillas (−59%), followed by eastern gorillas (−52%), western gorillas (−32%), bonobos (−29%), central chimpanzees (−17%) and western chimpanzees (−11%). SEC for Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzees and eastern chimpanzees was not greatly reduced. Except for Cross River and eastern gorillas, the number of SEC patches did not change significantly, suggesting that SEC loss was caused mainly by patch size reduction.
The first continent-wide perspective of African ape SEC distribution shows dramatic declines in recent years. The model has clear limitations for use at small geographic scales, given the quality of available data and the coarse resolution of predictions. However, at the large scale it has potential for informing international policymaking, mitigation of resource extraction and infrastructure development, as well as for spatial prioritization of conservation effort and evaluating conservation effectiveness.
A main concern of farmers worldwide is how to reduce crop losses to wildlife. Some potentially lethal crop protection methods are non-selective. It is important to understand the impact of such methods on species of conservation concern. Uganda has important populations of Endangered eastern chimpanzees Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii. Farmers sometimes use large metal mantraps to guard their fields against crop-raiding wildlife, particularly baboonsPapio anubis and wild pigs Potamochoerus sp.. Chimpanzees that range onto farmland also step in these illegal devices and without rapid veterinary invention face severe injury or eventual death. Unlike inadvertent snaring of great apes in African forests, the problem of mantraps in forest–farm ecotones has received little attention. We report 10 cases of entrapped chimpanzees in the cultivated landscape surrounding Uganda's Budongo Forest during 2007–2011, undoubtedly only a portion of the actual number of cases. Mantraps currently present a substantial threat to ape populations in this important conservation landscape. Our data underscore the need for conservation programmes to consider the techniques used by rural farmers to protect their livelihoods from wild animals.
We describe the behavior of a previously unstudied community of wild chimpanzees during opportunistic encounters with researchers in an unprotected forest-farm mosaic at Bulindi, Uganda. Data were collected during 115 encounters between May 2006 and January 2008. Individual responses were recorded during the first minute of visual contact. The most common responses were -œignore- for arboreal chimpanzees and -œmonitor- for terrestrial individuals. Chimpanzees rarely responded with -œflight-. Adult males were seen disproportionately often relative to adult females, and accounted for 90% of individual responses recorded for terrestrial animals. Entire encounters were also categorized based on the predominant response of the chimpanzee party to researcher proximity. The most frequent encounter type was -œignore- (36%), followed by -œmonitor- (21%), -œintimidation- (18%) and -œstealthy retreat- (18%). -œIntimidation- encounters occurred when chimpanzees were contacted in dense forest where visibility was low, provoking intense alarm and agitation. Adult males occasionally acted together to repel researchers through aggressive mobbing and pursuit. Chimpanzee behavior during encounters reflects the familiar yet frequently agonistic relationship between apes and local people at Bulindi. The chimpanzees are not hunted but experience high levels of harassment from villagers. Human-directed aggression by chimpanzees may represent a strategy to accommodate regular disruptions to foraging effort arising from competitive encounters with people both in and outside forest. Average encounter duration and proportion of encounters categorized as -œignore- increased over time, whereas -œintimidation- encounters decreased, indicating some habituation occurred during the study. Ecotourism aimed at promoting tolerance of wildlife through local revenue generation is one possible strategy for conserving great apes on public or private land. However, the data imply that habituating chimpanzees for viewing-based ecotourism in heavily human-dominated landscapes, such as Bulindi, is ill-advised since a loss of fear of humans could lead to increased negative interactions with local people. Am. J. Primatol. Am. J. Primatol. 72:907-918, 2010. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Parathian, H., McLennan, M.R., Hill, C.M., Frazão-Moreira, A., & Hockings, K.J. (2018). Breaking through disciplinary barriers: human–wildlife interactions and multispecies ethnography. International Journal of Primatology, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10764-018-0027-9
McLennan, M.R. (2018). Tie one on: ‘nest tying’ by wild chimpanzees at Bulindi – a variant of a universal great ape behaviour? Primates, 59(3), 227–233.
McLennan, M.R., Mori, H., Mahittikorn, A., Prasertbun, R., Hagiwara, K., & Huffman, M.A. (2017). Zoonotic enterobacterial pathogens detected in wild chimpanzees. EcoHealth, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10393-017-1303-4
Donati, G., Santini, L., Eppley, T. M., Arrigo-Nelson, S. J., Balestri, M., Boinski, S., Bollen, A., Bridgeman, L. L., Campera, M., Carrai, V., Chalise, M. K., Lewis, A. D., Hohmann, G., Kinnaird, M. F., Koenig, A., Kowalewski, M., Lahann, P., McLennan, M. R., et al. (2017). Low levels of fruit nitrogen as drivers for the evolution of Madagascar’s primate communities. Scientific Reports, 7(1), 14406.
Cibot, M., Sabiiti, T., McLennan, M.R. (2017). Two cases of chimpanzees interacting with dead animals without food consumption at Bulindi, Hoima District, Uganda. Pan Africa News, 24(1), 6–8.
McLennan, M.R., Hasegawa, H., Bardi, M., Huffman, M.A. (2017). Gastrointestinal parasite infections and self-medication in wild chimpanzees surviving in degraded forest fragments within an agricultural landscape mosaic in Uganda. PLoS ONE, 12(7), e0180431.
McLennan, M.R., Spagnoletti, N. and Hockings, K.J. (2017). The implications of primate behavioural flexibility for sustainable human–primate coexistence in anthropogenic habitats. International Journal of Primatology, 38(2), 105–121.
McLennan, M.R. and Ganzhorn, J.U. (2017). Nutritional characteristics of wild and cultivated foods for chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) in agricultural landscapes. International Journal of Primatology, 38(2), 122–150.
Hasegawa, H., Shigyo, M., Yanai, Y., McLennan, M.R., Fujita, S., Makouloutou, P., Tsuchida, S., Ando, C., Satoh, H., Huffman, M.A. (2017). Molecular features of hookworm larvae (Necator spp.) raised by coproculture from Ugandan chimpanzees and Gabonese gorillas and humans. Parasitology International, 66(2), 12–15.
Hill, C.M. & McLennan, M.R. (2016). The primatologist as social actor. Etnográfica, 20(3), 668–671.
Hockings, K.J., McLennan, M.R. (2016). Problematic primate behaviour in agricultural landscapes: Chimpanzees as ‘pests’ and ‘predators’. In: Waller, M.T. (Ed.). Ethnoprimatology:Primate Conservation in the 21st Century. Springer: Switzerland, pp. 137–156.
McLennan, M.R. and Asiimwe, C. (2016). Cars kill chimpanzees: case report of a wild chimpanzee killed on a road at Bulindi, Uganda. Primates, 57(3), 377–388.
Hasegawa, H., Kalousova, B., McLennan M.R., Modry, D., Profousova-Psenkova, I., Shutt-Phillips, K.A., Todd, A., Huffman, M.A., Petrzelkova, K.J. (2016). Strongyloides infections of humans and great apes in Dzanga-Sangha Protected Areas, Central African Republic and in degraded forest fragments in Bulindi, Uganda. Parasitology International, 65(5), 367–370.
Cannon, T.H., Heistermann, M., Hankison, S.J., Hockings, K.J. and McLennan, M.R. (2016). Tailored enrichment strategies and stereotypic behaviour in captive individually-housed macaques (Macaca spp.). Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 19(2), 171–182.
McLennan, M.R. & Hockings, K.J. (2016). The Aggressive apes? Causes and contexts of great ape attacks on humans. In: Problematic Wildlife: A Cross-Disciplinary Approach, ed. F.M. Angelici. Springer: New York, pp. 373–394.
McLennan, M.R. & Hill, C.M. (2015). Changing agricultural practices and human-chimpanzee interactions: tobacco and sugarcane farming in and around Bulindi, Uganda. In: State of the Apes. Volume II: Industrial Agriculture and Ape Conservation, ed. Arcus Foundation. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, UK, pp. 29–31.
Ota, N., Hasegawa, H., McLennan M.R., Kooriyama, T., Sato, H., Pebsworth, P.A. and Huffman, M.A. (2015). Molecular identification of Oesophagostomum spp. from ‘village’ chimpanzees in Uganda and their phylogenetic relationship with those of other primates. Royal Society Open Science, 2(11), 150471.
McLennan, M.R. (2015). Is honey a fallback food for wild chimpanzees or just a sweet treat? American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 158(4), 685–695.
Hockings K.J., McLennan M.R., Carvalho, S., Ancrenaz M., Bobe, R., Byrne, R., Dunbar, R.I.M., Matsuzawa, T., McGrew, W.C., Williamson, E.A., Wilson, M.L., Wood, B., Wrangham, R.W. and Hill, C.M. (2015). Apes in the Anthropocene: flexibility and survival. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 30(4), 215–222.
McLennan, M.R. and Hockings, K.J. (2014) Wild chimpanzees show group differences in selection of agricultural crops. Scientific Reports, 4, 5956.
Hockings, K.J., McLennan, M.R. and Hill, C. (2014). Fear beyond predators. Science, 344(6187), 981.
McLennan, M.R. (2014) Chimpanzee insectivory in the northern half of Uganda’s Rift Valley: do Bulindi chimpanzees conform to a regional pattern? Primates, 55(2), 173–178.
McLennan, M.R. (2013). Diet and feeding ecology of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) in Bulindi, Uganda: foraging strategies at the forest–farm interface. International Journal of Primatology, 34(3), 585–614.
McLennan, M.R. and Hill, C.M. (2013). Ethical issues in the study and conservation of an African great ape in an unprotected, human-dominated landscape in western Uganda. In: Ethics in the Field: Contemporary Challenges, ed. J. MacClancy and A. Fuentes. Oxford: Berghahn. pp.42–66.
Priston, N.E.C. and McLennan, M.R. (2013). Managing humans, managing macaques: Human–macaque conflict in Asia and Africa. In: The Macaque Connection: Cooperation and Conflict Between Humans and Macaques, ed. S. Radhakrishna, M.A. Huffman and A. Sinha. Springer: New York. pp. 225–250.
Junker, J., Blake, S., Boesch, C., Campbell, G., du Toit, L., Duvall, C., Ekobo, A., Etoga, G., Galat-Luong, A., Gamys, J., Ganas-Swaray, J., Gatti, S., Ghiurghi, A., Granier, N., Hart, J., Head, J., Herbinger, I., Hicks, T.C., Huijbregts, B., Imong, I.S., Kuempel, N., Lahm, S., Lindsell, J., Maisels, F., McLennan, M.R., Martinez, L., Morgan, B., Morgan, D., Mulindahabi, F., Mundry, R., N'Goran, K.P., Normand, E., Ntongho, A., Okon, D.T., Petre, C.A., Plumptre, A., Rainey, H., Regnaut, S., Sanz, C., Stokes, E., Tondossama, A., Tranquilli, S., Sunderland-Groves, J., Walsh, P., Warren, Y., Williamson, E.A. and Kuehl, H.S. (2012) Recent decline in suitable environmental conditions for African great apes. Diversity and Distributions, 18(11), 1077–1091.
McLennan, M.R., Hyeroba, D., Asiimwe, C., Reynolds, V. and Wallis, J. (2012). Chimpanzees in man-traps: Lethal crop protection and conservation in Uganda. Oryx, 41(4), 598–603.
McLennan, M.R. and Hill, C.M. (2012). Troublesome neighbours: Changing attitudes towards chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) in a human-dominated landscape in Uganda. Journal for Nature Conservation, 20(4) 219–227.
McLennan, M.R. and Huffman, M.A. (2012). High frequency of leaf-swallowing and its relationship to intestinal parasite expulsion in ‘village’ chimpanzees at Bulindi, Uganda. American Journal of Primatology, 74(7), 642–650.
Hockings, K.J. and McLennan, M.R. (2012). From forest to farm: Systematic review of cultivar feeding by chimpanzees – management implications for wildlife in anthropogenic landscapes. PLoS ONE, 7(4), e33391.
McLennan, M.R. and Plumptre, A.J. (2012). Protected apes, unprotected forest: Composition, structure and diversity of riverine forest fragments and their conservation value in Uganda. Tropical Conservation Science, 5(1), 79–103.
McLennan, M.R. (2011). Preliminary observations of hand-clasp grooming by chimpanzees at Bulindi, Uganda. Pan Africa News, 18(2), 18–20.
McLennan, M.R. (2010). Case study of an unusual human–chimpanzee conflict at Bulindi, Uganda. Pan Africa News, 17(1), 1–4.
McLennan, M.R. and Hill, C.M. (2010). Chimpanzee responses to researchers in a disturbed forest–farm mosaic at Bulindi, western Uganda. American Journal of Primatology, 72, 907–918.
Plumptre, A.J, Rose, R, Nangendo, G., Williamson, E.A., Didier, K., Hart, J., Mulindahabi, F., Hicks, C., Griffin, B., Ogawa, H., Nixon, S., Pintea, L., Vosper, A., McLennan, M.R., et al. (2010). Eastern Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan 2010–2020. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN. 52pp.
McLennan, M.R. (2008). Beleaguered chimpanzees in the agricultural district of Hoima, western Uganda. Primate Conservation, 23, 45–54.