Male Mating Strategies and Gorilla Society

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:
Male Mating Strategies and Gorilla Society

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  • Animal Behaviour and Behavioural Ecology


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Male mating strategies have a large impact on gorilla society. They help to explain the stability of gorilla groups (long male breeding tenure and female group tenure), as well as group composition, in particular the number of males. Male mating competition influences both male and female dispersal and female residence decisions. As indicated by the extreme sexual dimorphism of gorillas and the single-male, multi-female composition of groups, male gorillas compete intensively for exclusive, long-term access to females. At its most serious, this rivalry includes damaging, sometimes fatal, aggression between males, and infanticide. This chapter examines gorilla male mating strategies and gorilla society in comparison with Pan and Pongo. It discusses mate acquisition versus mate retention and offspring protection, the influence of females on the stability of male–female associations, breeding success and mating competition, coercion and mate-guarding, the wooing of females by subordinate males, the interaction of male and female strategies, and the perpetuation of group structure. The chapter also looks at ecological constraints on group size, male mating competition, and male emigration.

Keywords: gorilla males; gorilla females; Pan; Pongo; mating strategies; gorilla society; breeding; group size; mating competition

Chapter.  12590 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Animal Behaviour and Behavioural Ecology

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