Food transfers in immature wild western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla)
AffiliationUniversity of Chester
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AbstractThis article discusses how the transfer of food items between primates serves an informative purpose in addition to supplementing the diet of immature individuals. Food transfers amongst immature western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla), at Mbeli Bai, Republic of Congo weew observed.
CitationPrimates, 47(4), 2006, pp. 294-299.
DescriptionThis article is not available through ChesterRep.
SponsorsThis article was submitted to the RAE2008 for the University of Chester - Allied Health Professions and Studies.
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Behavioural development in wild Western lowland gorillas (gorilla gorilla gorilla)Fletcher, Alison W.; Nowell, Angela A. (University of Liverpool (University of Chester), 2005-02)Behavioural development has received little attention in primates, despite having important influences on infant mortality, interbirth intervals, and therefore, growth of populations. Gorillas have long developmental periods, exhibit strong maternal bonds and integrate into intricate social systems, making them an ideal species in which to investigate non-human primate development. Gorillas exist across a range of habitats, and differences in behaviour, both within and between species reflect socioecological differences, for example, in the availability and distribution of food. Consequently, by using gorillas as a model, opportunities also exist to investigate environmental constraints on the development of independence. This study provides the first detailed analysis, with reference to ecological factors, of the development of behavioural skills and relationships in wild western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla). Behavioural development of western lowland gorillas is then compared with published accounts of development in mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei) to determine the extent to which differing ecology influences behaviour. The study was conducted at Mbeli Bai in the Republic of Congo, a large, marshy clearing, visited by gorillas predominantly for feeding purposes. Data were collected using scan, focal, all-occurrence and ad libitum sampling methods from 58 gorillas below 8 years of age. Spatial relationships, suckling, and the nature of interactions involving immature individuals were analysed. The distribution of time between different behaviours by immatures, and the development of independent feeding and travelling behaviour was also investigated, and all were tested for differences as a result of immature age, sex and social group, or the mother's parity. Towards the end of infancy, individuals showed competent feeding behaviour in the bai. However, western lowland gorillas were not weaned until the juvenile period, and until this time, close association was common between mothers and offspring. With increasing independence from the mother there was limited investment in relationships with other individuals, and instead, a greater emphasis was placed on developing skills through play, alloparenting and agonistic interactions. When results were compared with those of mountain gorillas, there was evidence of increased investment in relationships, particularly with the silverback, by immature mountain gorillas, which was assumed to reflect lower rates of natal dispersal by mountain gorillas, and the greater likelihood that relationships with individuals in the natal group could prove useful in the future. Suckling and close proximity to the mother continued until later ages in western lowland gorillas, resulting in clear differences between them mountain gorillas in the duration of investment by mothers. More frugivorous western lowland gorillas required increased levels of investment by the mother before independence could be achieved, demonstrating the effect that resource availability can have on behavioural development in species where resources are widely and unpredictably dispersed.
Development of independence from the mother in Gorilla gorilla gorillaNowell, Angela A.; Fletcher, Alison W.; University of Chester (Springer Verlag, 2007-04)This article investigates the development of independence in a population of wild western gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) at Mbeli Bai, Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park, Republic of Congo.
Weaned age variation in the Virunga mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei)Eckardt, Winnie; Fawcett, Katie; Fletcher, Alison W.; University of Chester; The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International (Springer, 02/02/2016)Weaning marks an important milestone during life history in mammals indicating nutritional independence from the mother. Age at weaning is a key measure of maternal investment and care, affecting female reproductive rates, offspring survival and ultimately the viability of a population. Factors explaining weaned age variation in the endangered mountain gorilla are not yet well understood. This study investigated the impact of group size, group type (one-male versus multi-male), offspring sex, as well as maternal age, rank, and parity on weaned age variation in the Virunga mountain gorilla population. The status of nutritional independence was established in 69 offspring using long-term suckling observations. A Cox-regression with mixed effects was applied to model weaned age and its relationship with covariates. Findings indicate that offspring in one-male groups are more likely to be weaned earlier than offspring in multi-male groups, which may reflect a female reproductive strategy to reduce higher risk of infanticide in one-male groups. Inferior milk production capacity and conflicting resource allocation between their own and offspring growth may explain later weaning in primiparous mothers compared to multiparous mothers. Sex-biased weaned age related to maternal condition defined by parity, rank, and maternal age will be discussed in the light of the Trivers-Willard hypothesis. Long-term demographic records revealed no disadvantage of early weaning for mother or offspring. Population growth and two peaks in weaned age within the Virunga population encourage future studies on the potential impact of bamboo shoots as a weaning food and other environmental factors on weaning.