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Infant survival in western lowland gorillas after voluntary dispersal by pregnant females

MPS-Authors
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Manguette,  Marie
Department of Primatology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Max Planck Society;

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Kandza,  Vidrich H.
Department of Primatology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Max Planck Society;

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Robbins,  Martha M.
Gorillas, Department of Primatology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Max Planck Society;
Department of Primatology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Max Planck Society;

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Manguette_Infant_Primates_2020.pdf
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Supplementary Material (public)

Manguette_Infant_Primates_2020.pdf
(Supplementary material), 2MB

Citation

Manguette, M., Breuer, T., Robeyst, J., Kandza, V. H., & Robbins, M. M. (2020). Infant survival in western lowland gorillas after voluntary dispersal by pregnant females. Primates, 61, 743-749. doi:10.1007/s10329-020-00844-z.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0006-C8DE-F
Abstract
In many social species, after the alpha male has been replaced or the group disintegrates, a female’s infant is at risk of infanticide by a male. Female gorillas have developed the rare strategy of secondary dispersal in which they transfer between reproductive groups during the limited time period between weaning an infant and conceiving the next one (voluntary dispersal). By doing so they leave a weaker silverback near the end of his tenure and join a stronger silverback at an earlier stage of his own tenure, thereby mitigating the risk of infanticide if the former dies. If females are pregnant or have unweaned offspring when the only male in the group dies, their offspring are vulnerable to infanticide by the new silverback that they join (via involuntary dispersal). In the few known cases of female gorillas transferring when pregnant (mainly after group disintegration), their offspring were killed. We report here on three adult females that transferred voluntarily while pregnant multiple times between two groups yet their offspring were not killed by the new group’s silverback. The gorillas were observed from 1995 to 2015 at the Mbeli Bai research site in northern Republic of the Congo. The females gave birth 5–6 months (gestation period 8.5 months) after their last transfer. To our knowledge, these observations are the first to show that wild female western lowland gorillas can transfer voluntarily while pregnant without incurring infanticide by a new silverback. These observations highlight the behavioural plasticity shown by female gorillas in response to sexual coercion by males.