Female Strategies: Male Influences on Females' Competition, Cooperation, 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: Male Influences on Females' Competition, Cooperation, and Grouping

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A major facet of gorilla society is the absolute dominance of the male over females, which correlates with his being twice their size. For instance, he supplants the average female nearly ten times more often than does the average other female in the group. Not only does his dominant presence make competition and cooperation among females themselves almost irrelevant, but the male also actively diminishes the effects of the females' competition and cooperation by preventing dominant females from exerting their competitive advantage through his usual help of subordinates against dominants. The effect of males is so strong that group size of gorillas is unlikely to be limited by competition among females, because an extra female is going to make so little difference by comparison to the competition already imposed by the one male. This chapter explores gorilla female strategies in comparison with Pan and Pongo, focusing on male influences on females' competition, cooperation, and grouping.

Keywords: gorilla females; Pan; Pongo; cooperation; competition; grouping; gorilla society; group size; males

Chapter.  3540 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Animal Behaviour and Behavioural Ecology

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