Female Strategies and Society: Food and Grouping

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:
Female Strategies and Society: Food and Grouping

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  • Animal Behaviour and Behavioural Ecology


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Gorilla females, unlike Pan or Pongo females, always live in more or less stable groups with a male. Group-living entails increased competition for resources, yet can also offer the benefit of cooperating with others, especially kin, in competition for those resources. If gorilla females group, do they compete less than Pan or Pongo females, or cooperate more? In many respects, gorilla females act much like other group-living primates. They compete over food to such an extent that dominance hierarchies are sometimes evident—in which case why do they live in groups? And they cooperate in that competition, doing so with kin more than with non-kin—in which case why do they emigrate? The nature of gorillas' main food, foliage, is such (widespread and abundant) that competition is minimal. Consequently, any benefits from cooperation in competition are also minimal. This chapter, which examines gorilla female strategies and society, focusing on their food and grouping, provides an overview of gorillas' food, competition and cooperation, and emigration.

Keywords: gorilla females; food; Pan; Pongo; cooperation; competition; emigration; grouping; foliage

Chapter.  8334 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Animal Behaviour and Behavioural Ecology

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