Association patterns of female gorillas

Young, C. ORCID: 0000-0001-8919-2093 and Robbins, M.M., 2023. Association patterns of female gorillas. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 378 (1868): 20210429. ISSN 0962-8436

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Social interactions ultimately impact health and fitness in gregarious mammals. However, research focusing on the strength of affiliative interactions has primarily been conducted on female philopatric species. Gorillas provide an interesting counterpoint to previous research as females emigrate multiple times throughout their lives. We compare female–female association strength, duration and consistency in wild mountain (Gorilla beringei beringei) and western gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla). Additionally, we examine whether the alpha male influences female association strength and if these associations are an artefact of both females concurrently in spatial proximity of the alpha male. In this between-species comparison, female gorillas had differentiated association patterns that were consistent on average for 2 years. The alpha males did not influence female association strength, with associations being similar in his presence or absence. Finally, we found more variability in association patterns among mountain gorillas with higher average association scores and higher proportion of ‘preferred associates' than western gorillas. The rare dispersal pattern in the Gorilla genus may lead to greater flexibility in female association patterns than in species exhibiting female philopatry and strong kinship bonds. This may echo ancestral human society and provide new evidence to help us understand the evolution of modern human society.

This article is part of the theme issue ‘Cooperation among women: evolutionary and cross-cultural perspectives’.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Creators: Young, C. and Robbins, M.M.
Publisher: The Royal Society
Date: 16 January 2023
Volume: 378
Number: 1868
ISSN: 0962-8436
Rights: © 2022 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Laura Ward
Date Added: 05 Dec 2022 12:36
Last Modified: 05 Dec 2022 12:36

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