Home-range use and intergroup encounters in western gorillas (Gorilla g. gorilla) at Lossi forest, North Congo

Authors

  • M. Bermejo

    Corresponding author
    1. Animal Biology Department, Faculty of Biology, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
    2. Conservation and Rational Utilization of Tropical Forest Ecosystems in Central Africa (ECOFAC)-Congo (European Union)
    • Dpto. Biología Animal (Vertebrados) Facultad de Biología, Universidad de Barcelona, Avda. Diagonal 645, 08028 Barcelona, Spain
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Abstract

I present data on home-range use and types of intergroup encounters for one group (Apollo) of western gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) from a new study site in the Republic of Congo. The total home-range size of the focal group, which I calculated by superimposing a 100 m × 100 m grid over the mapped daily path traveled, was 11 km2. The majority (73%) of the group's home range was used exclusively, although at the periphery it overlapped with the ranges of three other groups. Most encounters (86%) with other groups (n = 14) took place in the periphery of the home range, and appeared to involve access to fruit trees. The focal group silverback's encounters with solitary silverbacks occurred throughout the focal group's home range, did not involve access to fruit, and typically resulted in aggressive or avoidance behavior. The focal group silverback's response to other group males was more varied: it included tolerance (64%), avoidance (14%), and aggression (21%), and was dependent upon the identity of the extragroup male. The focal group exhibited an unusual form of tolerant behavior toward some other groups by occasionally forming “nesting supergroups” (two groups nested together overnight at distances of 30–50 m). The western gorillas at Lossi were somewhat fluid in their grouping. Subgrouping and supergrouping occurred, although more infrequently than reported previously, and with a new twist: subgrouping did not necessarily require a silverback's presence. I stress the need for intraspecific comparisons and more complete data sets on western gorilla social organization. Am J Primatol 64:223–232, 2004. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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