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Keywords:

  • microsatellite genotyping;
  • mutation;
  • reproductive skew;
  • beringei;
  • Bwindi;
  • Uganda

Abstract

To understand variation among social systems, it is essential to know the relative reproductive success of individuals in group-living species. Particularly interesting for such studies are taxa such as mountain gorillas in which both one-male and multimale groups are common, because of the opportunity to estimate the costs and benefits to males of pursuing different reproductive strategies. We genotyped 68 individuals from two groups of multimale mountain gorilla groups in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda to determine the distribution of paternity among the males. In both groups, the dominant male sired the majority of offspring. One group underwent a fission, and we found that the eight offspring assigned to the dominant silverback (and their mothers) remained with their father, while the two offspring of unknown paternity ended up in the small group headed by the formerly subordinate silverback. This is consistent with the proposal that the outcome of group fission in primates is not only influenced by maternal relationships among individuals, but also by patrilineal relationships. Results of this study show that subordinate males may gain reproductive benefits even while queuing for dominance status. Despite ecological differences between Bwindi and the Virunga Volcanoes, male mountain gorillas living in both populations benefit from remaining in multimale groups. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2008. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.