Female Strategies: Male Influences; Joining a Protective Male

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; Joining a Protective Male

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Gorillas are preyed upon, and in some populations, infanticide has at times been common. This chapter argues that, in the face of the obvious feeding costs imposed by a male upon females, the only reason for females to group with males is to obtain protection against predators or infanticidal non-father males, or both. Several lines of evidence indicate that females join males, rather than groups, and that groups result from independent choice by several females of the same male. Observational evidence supports the anti-predation argument for grouping: the male is almost the only protector of a group, and the females act as if he protects them. Observational and modeling evidence also support the anti-infanticide hypothesis. Females that lose their main protective male lose their infants to other males. Also, modeled females that range alone suffer a far higher risk of infanticide than do those that range with a male. The chapter shows that female gorillas associate with a male for defense against predators, and compares gorilla female strategies with those of Pan and Pongo.

Keywords: gorilla females; Pan; Pongo; gorilla males; infanticide; predators; anti-predation; defense; grouping

Chapter.  13756 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Animal Behaviour and Behavioural Ecology

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