Competing for space: Female chimpanzees are more aggressive inside than outside their core areas

Jordan A. Miller, Anne E. Pusey, Ian C. Gilby, Kara Schroepfer-Walker, A. Catherine Markham, Carson M. Murray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Female space use can have important fitness consequences, which are likely due to differential access to food resources. Many studies have explored spatial competition in solitary species, but little is known about how individuals in social species compete over shared space. In this study, we investigate spatial patterns of aggression among female East African chimpanzees, Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii. This species provides an excellent opportunity to study spatial competition since (1) female chimpanzees occupy overlapping core areas (small areas of the community range in which individuals concentrate their space use) and (2) female core area quality is correlated with reproductive success, suggesting that females compete over long-term access to core areas. Here, we examine how female aggression towards other females varies inside and outside individual female core areas during a 14-year period at Gombe National Park, Tanzania. Overall, females showed higher rates of aggression inside than outside their own core areas. This pattern was driven by spatial variation in aggression in nonfeeding contexts. While food-related aggression did not vary spatially, females were more aggressive in nonfeeding contexts inside their core areas than they were outside their core areas. These results suggest that female chimpanzees follow a mixed strategy in which they compete for long-term access to resources in their core areas as well as for immediate access to food throughout the community range.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-152
Number of pages6
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Issue numberC
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Aggression
  • Chimpanzee
  • Foraging
  • Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii
  • Resource competition
  • Space use
  • Territoriality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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