Factors affecting reproduction and mortality among baboons in the Okavango Delta, Botswana

D. L. Cheney, R. M. Seyfarth, J. Fischer, J. Beehner, T. Bergman, S. E. Johnson, D. M. Kitchen, R. A. Palombit, D. Rendall, J. B. Silk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

178 Scopus citations


We present results of a 10-year study of free-ranging gray-footed chacma baboons (Papio ursinus griseipes) in the Okavango Delta of Botswana. The majority of deaths among adult females and juveniles were due to predation, while infants were more likely to die of infanticide. There were strong seasonal effects on birth and mortality, with the majority of conceptions occurring during the period of highest rainfall Mortality due to predation and infanticide was highest during the 3-mo period when flooding was at its peak, when the group was more scattered and constrained to move along predictable routes. The reproductive parameters most likely to be associated with superior competitive ability - interbirth interval and infant growth rates - conferred a slight fitness advantage on high-ranking females. However, it was counterbalanced by the effects of infanticide and predation. Infanticide affected high-and low-ranking females more than middle-ranking females, while predation affected females of all ranks relatively equally. As a result, there were few rank-related differences in estimated female lifetime reproductive success.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)401-428
Number of pages28
JournalInternational Journal of Primatology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Baboons
  • Female reproductive success
  • Infanticide
  • Predation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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