Optimal diet and functional response models are used to understand the evolution of primate foraging strategies. The predictions of these models can be tested by examining the geographic and seasonal variation in dietary diversity. Dietary diversity is a useful tool that allows dietary comparisons across differing sampling locations and time periods. Bonobos (Pan paniscus) are considered primarily frugivorous and consume fruits, leaves, insects, vertebrates, terrestrial herbaceous vegetation, and flowers. Frugivores, like bonobos, are valuable for examining dietary diversity and testing foraging models because they eat a variety of species and are subject to seasonal shifts in fruit availability. Frugivorous primate species thus allow for tests of how variation in dietary diversity is correlated with variation in ecological factors. We investigated measures of dietary diversity in bonobos at two research camps across field seasons within the same protected area (N’dele and Iyema) in Lomako Forest, Democratic Republic of the Congo. We compared the results of behavioral observation (1984/1985, 1991, 1995, 2014, and 2017) and fecal washing analysis (2007 and 2009) between seasons and study period using three diversity indices (Shannon’s, Simpson’s, and SW evenness). The average yearly dietary diversity indices at N’dele were Shannon’s = 2.04, Simpson’s D = 0.82, and SW evenness = 0.88 while at Iyema, the indices were Shannon’s = 2.02, Simpson’s D = 0.82, and SW evenness = 0.88. Behavioral observation data sets yielded significantly higher dietary diversity indices than fecal washing data sets. We found that food item (fruit, leaf, and flower) consumption was not associated with seasonal food availability for the 2017 behavioral observation data set. Shannon’s index was lower during periods when fewer bonobo dietary items were available to consume and higher when fruit was abundant. Finally, we found that optimal diet models best-explained patterns of seasonal food availability and dietary diversity. Dietary diversity is an essential factor to consider when understanding primate diets and can be a tool in understanding variation in primate diets, particularly among frugivores. Dietary diversity varies across populations of the same species and across time, and it is critical in establishing a complete understanding of how primate diets change over time.

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