Male genetic structure and paternity in western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla)


Correspondence to: Eiji Inoue, Department of Zoology, Graduate School of Science, Kyoto University, Kyoto 606-8502, Japan. E-mail:


The male dispersal patterns of western lowland gorillas (WLGs, Gorilla gorilla gorilla) are not well understood. To determine whether most silverbacks stay close to their relatives, we analyzed autosomal and Y-chromosomal microsatellites (STRs) in wild WLGs at Moukalaba, Gabon. We obtained STR genotypes for 38 individuals, including eight silverbacks and 12 adult females in an approximately 40 km2 area. Among them, 20 individuals were members of one identified group (Group Gentil; GG), including one silverback and six adult females. The silverback sired all 13 of the offspring in GG and no Y-STR polymorphism within GG was found, as expected in a one-male group structure. Over all silverbacks sampled, Y-STR diversity was high considering the limited sampling area, and silverbacks with similar Y-STR haplotypes were not always located in nearby areas. Although the misclassification rate of kinship estimates in this study was not negligible, there were no kin dyads among all silverbacks sampled. These results suggest that silverbacks born in the same group do not stay close to each other after maturation. The Y-STR diversity in this study was similar to that of a previous study conducted in an area that was approximately 150 times larger than our study area. Similarity of WLG Y-STR diversity between studies at different sampling scales suggests that male gene flow may not be geographically limited. These results suggest that WLG males normally disperse from their natal areas after maturation, at least, in Moukalaba. Am J Phys Anthropol 151:583–588, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.