Journal Article

Group differences in feeding and diet composition of wild western gorillas


The ecological-constraints model posits that living in larger groups is associated to higher travel costs and reduced nutritional intake due to within-group feeding competition setting upper group size limits. While this is critical for frugivorous mammals, the model is less ubiquitous for folivores who feed on more abundant and evenly distributed food. The seasonally frugivorous diet of western gorillas (Gorilla gorilla) provides the opportunity to study the ecological-constraints model in the largest primate species. We investigated how two groups of western gorillas of difering sizes (N= 9, N= 15) in Central African Republic, responded to seasonal variation in fruit availability in terms of activity and diet. We used continuous focal animal sampling during periods of high (July–August 2011) and low (October 2011–January 2012) fruit availability, measured by monthly phenological scores. While diet diversity, resting and moving time did not difer between groups, overall the smaller group spent more time feeding than the larger group although this became less evident when fruit was more available. The smaller group was more frugivorous than the larger group. However, the larger group increased more steeply fruit consumption when fruit was more available, and incorporated more insects, young leaves and bark when fruit was less available, when compared to the smaller group. Up to a certain limit, the fexibility of large, seasonal frugivores to survive on a more folivorous diet may bufer the upper limit group size, suggesting deviation from the ecological-constraints model as in some folivores.

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Fuh, Terence
Todd, Angelique
Feistner, Anna
Donati, Giuseppe
Masi, Shelly

Oxford Brookes departments

Department of Social Sciences


Year of publication: 2022
Date of RADAR deposit: 2022-08-17

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

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