Assessing the impact of forest structure disturbances on the arboreal movement and energetics of orangutans—An agent-based modeling approach

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch articleContributedpeer-review


  • Kirana Widyastuti - , Chair of Forest Biometrics and Systems Analysis (Author)
  • Romain Reuillon - , Géographie-Cités (UMR 8504), Complex Systems Institute of Paris Ile-de-France (ISC-PIF) (Author)
  • Paul Chapron - , LASTIG, French National Institute of Geography and Forestry Information, Saint-Mandé (Author)
  • Wildan Abdussalam - , Center for Advanced Systems Understanding (CASUS) (Author)
  • Darmae Nasir - , University Of Palangka Raya (Author)
  • Mark E. Harrison - , University of Leicester, University of Exeter (Author)
  • Helen Morrogh-Bernard - , University of Exeter (Author)
  • Muhammad Ali Imron - , Gadjah Mada University (Author)
  • Uta Berger - , Chair of Forest Biometrics and Systems Analysis (Author)


Agent-based models have been developed and widely employed to assess the impact of disturbances or conservation management on animal habitat use, population development, and viability. However, the direct impacts of canopy disturbance on the arboreal movement of individual primates have been less studied. Such impacts could shed light on the cascading effects of disturbances on animal health and fitness. Orangutans are an arboreal primate that commonly encounters habitat quality deterioration due to land-use changes and related disturbances such as forest fires. Forest disturbance may, therefore, create a complex stress scenario threatening orangutan populations. Due to forest disturbances, orangutans may adapt to employ more terrestrial, as opposed to arboreal, movements potentially prolonging the search for fruiting and nesting trees. In turn, this may lead to changes in daily activity patterns (i.e., time spent traveling, feeding, and resting) and available energy budget, potentially decreasing the orangutan’s fitness. We developed the agent-based simulation model BORNEO (arBOReal aNimal movEment mOdel), which explicitly describes both orangutans’ arboreal and terrestrial movement in a forest habitat, depending on distances between trees and canopy structures. Orangutans in the model perform activities with a
motivation to balance energy intake and expenditure through locomotion. We tested the model using forest inventory data obtained in Sebangau National Park, Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. This allowed us to construct virtual forests with real characteristics including tree connectivity, thus creating the potential to expand the environmental settings for simulation experiments. In order to parameterize the energy related processes of the orangutans described in the model, we applied a computationally intensive evolutionary algorithm and evaluated the simulation results against observed behavioral patterns of orangutans. Both the simulated variability and proportion of activity budgets
including feeding, resting, and traveling time for female and male orangutans confirmed the suitability of the model for its purpose. We used the calibrated model to compare the activity patterns and energy budgets of orangutans in both natural and disturbed forests . The results confirm field observations that orangutans in the disturbed forest are more likely to experience deficit energy balance due to traveling to the detriment of feeding time. Such imbalance is more pronounced in males than in females. The finding of a threshold of forest disturbances that affects a significant change in activity and energy budgets suggests potential threats to the orangutan population. Our study introduces
the first agent-based model describing the arboreal movement of primates that can serve as a tool to investigate the direct impact of forest changes and disturbances on the behavior of species such as orangutans. Moreover, it demonstrates the suitability of high-performance computing to optimize the calibration of complex agent-based models describing animal behavior at a fine spatio-temporal scale (1-m and 1-s granularity).


Original languageEnglish
Article number983337
JournalFrontiers in Ecology and Evolution
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022

External IDs

Scopus 85139500356
ORCID /0000-0003-2507-5570/work/142242140
ORCID /0000-0001-6920-136X/work/142247179


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