Fecal temperature of wild and captive Bornean orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus wurmbii) as a proxy for body temperature
Mitra Setia, Tatang
Susanto, Tri Wahyu
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Citation (published version)Muhammad Syainullah, Faye Harwell, Rinaldi Gotama, Pak Junardi, Katherine Scott, Brodie Philp, Tatang Mitra Setia, Tri Wahyu Susanto, Cheryl Knott. 2019. "Fecal Temperature of Wild and Captive Bornean Orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus wurmbii) as a Proxy for Body Temperature." "Abstract of talk presented at the International Conference on Biodiversity for Life: Sustainable Development of Indonesia Biodiversity, National University, Jakarta, Indonesia, 21 October 2019."
Primate health status affects individual fitness and survival, yet is difficult to noninvasively investigate in the wild. Using a method tested on chimpanzees and humans, we estimated temperature of fecal samples of Bornean orangutans as a proxy for body temperature. Upon defecation, we recorded peak internal temperature of the samples. Estimated body temperature was influenced by height of defecation (r= -0.23, N= 95, P= 0.0004) and sample weight (r= 0.23, N= 75, P= 0.0475). These estimates were not affected by sex (F(2,92)= 0.431, P= 0.651) or weather (F(2,92)= 1.175, P= 0.313). Our method allowed for fast, consistent sampling, such that time from defecation to collection did not affect the results (r= -0.074, N= 95, P= 0.468), confirming reliable fecal temperatures can be collected from orangutans. We compare our results from the field to captive fecal samples, finding higher body temperatures in captivity. From our samples (N=95), orangutans appear to have a lower internal body temperature (33.44 ± 1.74 °C) on average than either chimpanzees or humans. Previous studies have demonstrated that orangutans have a lower metabolic rate than other great apes. Lower body temperature may serve as a metabolic adaptation of orangutans to survive extended periods of low food availability when energy must be conserved.