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Genetics as a novel tool in mining impact assessment and biomonitoring of critically endangered western chimpanzees in the Nimba Mountains, Guinea

Koops, Kathelijne, Humle, Tatyana, Frandsen, Peter, Fitzgerald, Maegan, D'Auvergne, Lucy, Jackson, Hazel A., Børsting, Claus, Siegismund, Hans R., Soumah, Aly Gaspard, Hvilsom, Christina and others. (2023) Genetics as a novel tool in mining impact assessment and biomonitoring of critically endangered western chimpanzees in the Nimba Mountains, Guinea. Conservation Science and Practice, 5 (4). Article Number e12898. ISSN 2578-4854. (doi:10.1111/csp2.12898) (KAR id:100508)


Western chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) are Critically Endangered and Guinea is a key stronghold for this subspecies. However, Guinea is also rich in minerals with some of the highest‐grade iron‐ore deposits in the world. Specifically, the Nimba Mountains, home to western chimpanzees, is one of the sites under consideration for mining activities. To assess the impact of mining activities in the area, we used non‐invasive genetic sampling to estimate chimpanzee population size, sex ratio, community composition, and range boundaries on the western flank of the massif. The level of genetic diversity and affinity between communities was estimated and recommendations for future genetic censusing provided. Between 2003 and 2018, we collected 999 fecal samples of which 663 were analyzed using a panel of 26 microsatellites. We identified a minimum of 136 chimpanzees in four communities, with evidence of migratory events, a high level of shared ancestry and genetic diversity. We assessed sampling intensities and capture rates for each community. Saturation was reached in two communities with sampling between 3.2 and 4.3 times the estimated number of chimpanzees. Our findings highlight the utility of genetic censusing for temporal monitoring of ape abundance, as well as capturing migratory events and gauging genetic diversity and population viability over time. We recommend genetic sampling, combined with camera trapping, for use in future Environmental and Social Impact Assessments, as these methods can yield robust baselines for implementing the mitigation hierarchy, future biomonitoring and conservation management.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1111/csp2.12898
Uncontrolled keywords: Conservation management, environmental impact assessment, genetic censusing, Pan troglodytes verus, UNESCO world heritage site
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH426 Genetics
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > DICE (Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology)
Funders: University of Kent (
SWORD Depositor: JISC Publications Router
Depositing User: JISC Publications Router
Date Deposited: 17 Mar 2023 11:16 UTC
Last Modified: 21 Apr 2023 13:22 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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