Chapter

Gorilla Ecology and Society: A Brief Description

Alexander H. Harcourt

in Gorilla Society

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print August 2007 | ISBN: 9780226316024
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226316048 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226316048.003.0004
Gorilla Ecology and Society: A Brief Description

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Gorilla society is based on cohesive groups usually containing one adult male, several breeding females, and their offspring, and is characterized by long-term association between males and females, sometimes lasting for years. Both sexes normally leave the group of their birth. Gorillas prefer fruit to foliage. Their large body size, however, enables them to survive on more abundant, but lower-quality food such as pith, leaves, and woody stems, when preferred fruit is unavailable. This dietary flexibility helps to explain variation across gorilla populations in diet, ranging behavior, and some aspects of social cohesion. The striking differences between all the great apes in the nature of their societies are closely tied to their contrasting diets, and to related variation in how they find food, that is, their foraging strategies. This chapter, which provides a brief description of gorilla ecology and society in comparison with Pan and Pongo, looks at body size and diet, general habitat and food preferences, variation in foraging effort, home-range size, group cohesion, and population density.

Keywords: gorillas; gorilla society; ecology; social cohesion; Pan; Pongo; diets; foraging; body size; population density

Chapter.  20132 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Animal Behaviour and Behavioural Ecology

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