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Illuminating Movement? Nocturnal Activity Patterns in Chacma Baboons

Ayers, A. M.; Allan, A. T. L.; Howlett, C.; Tordiffe, A. S. W.; Williams, K. S.; Williams, S. T.; Hill, R. A.

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A. M. Ayers

Andy Allan
Assistant Professor Leverhulme Early Career Fellow

C. Howlett

A. S. W. Tordiffe

K. S. Williams

S. T. Williams


Recent analyses have shown that typically diurnal primates may periodically exhibit some levels of activity at night. Despite this, there have been few studies that have explored whether diurnal primates living in temperate environments will extend their activity budgets to the nocturnal phase as a response to seasonal constraints. Using dual‐axis accelerometers, we explored whether chacma baboons (Papio ursinus; N = 3) in the western Soutpansberg Mountains, South Africa, responded to seasonally fluctuating levels of day length, lunar illumination, wind speed, precipitation and temperature by heightening or lowering nocturnal activity levels. Our results showed that chacma baboons engaged in low levels of activity at night throughout the year. Although baboons had heighted nocturnal activity as a response to shorter days, moonlit nights and lower temperatures, these responses were most likely due to disturbed sleeping patterns rather than more active movement. Nocturnal activity significantly dropped in a female baboon throughout the course of her pregnancy and remained low after giving birth suggesting that females with infants must increase resting. Our results compliment previous analyses which suggest that although diurnal primates may periodically be active at night, there is limited evidence for strategic use of the nocturnal phase even in highly seasonal environments.


Ayers, A. M., Allan, A. T. L., Howlett, C., Tordiffe, A. S. W., Williams, K. S., Williams, S. T., & Hill, R. A. (2020). Illuminating Movement? Nocturnal Activity Patterns in Chacma Baboons. Journal of Zoology, 310(4), 287-297.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 22, 2019
Online Publication Date Nov 11, 2019
Publication Date Apr 30, 2020
Deposit Date Oct 24, 2019
Publicly Available Date Nov 11, 2020
Journal Journal of Zoology
Print ISSN 0952-8369
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 310
Issue 4
Pages 287-297
Public URL


Accepted Journal Article (1.2 Mb)

Copyright Statement
This is the accepted version of the following article: Ayers, A.M., Allan, A.T.L., Howlett, C., Tordiffe, A.S.W., Williams, K.S., Williams, S.T. & Hill, R.A. (2020). Illuminating Movement? Nocturnal Activity Patterns in Chacma Baboons. Journal of Zoology 310(4): 287-297 which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.

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