Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Bigger gorillas better at attracting mates and raising young

Date:
May 1, 2012
Source:
Wildlife Conservation Society
Summary:
Conservationists have found that larger male gorillas living in the rainforests of Congo seem to be more successful than smaller ones at attracting mates and even raising young.

From 1995 until 2007, the team followed the lives of 19 adult male western lowland gorillas and their family groups from observation platforms with telescopes and cameras, tracking the number of females each male mated with, and the number of offspring produced by each adult male and their survival.
Credit: Thomas Breuer/WCS

Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but even for gorillas, some traits stand out. A new study conducted in the rainforests of the Republic or Congo shows that female western lowland gorillas seek out bigger mates to father their offspring.

Conservationists with WCS and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology spent 12 years studying gorilla mating choices in Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park. Their findings illuminate an important factor in the evolution of great apes.

In assessing the role of size in the reproductive success of silverback gorillas, the researchers examined three physical factors for measurement: overall body length, the size of the adult male's head crest, and the size of its gluteal (backside) muscles. They then compared these physical traits with the number of female gorillas each silverback attracted, and the survival rates of their offspring.

The researchers found that the bigger the adult male, the more mates it had. However, only head-crest size and gluteal muscles strongly correlated to offspring survival and overall reproductive success. In other words, the babies of the silverbacks with bigger heads and glutes had a better chance of surviving to weaning age, and more siblings.

"Our findings of correlations between physical traits and male reproductive success could be considered evidence of a selection process in gorillas, but it is not yet proof," said WCS's Thomas Breuer, the study's lead author. "More studies would be necessary to determine the links between morphology and fitness in this and other long-lived species."

This latest study follows several others chronicling the western lowland gorillas of Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park's Mbeli Bai, a large, swampy forest clearing where the apes (and the scientists observing them) gather for long periods. The research team conducted their work from 1995 until 2007, following the lives of 19 adult males and their family groups with the help of observation platforms, telescopes, and cameras. These methods enabled the conservationists to track the number of females each silverback mated with, the number of offspring they produced, and the offsprings' survival rates.

To size up the silverbacks, the researchers used a non-invasive method called digital photogrammetry, which renders accurate measurements of individual gorillas and their characteristics from digital images by converting pixel size to actual lengths.

"By using non-invasive methods for measuring the size of individual male gorillas and their features, we are gaining insights about the factors that could be driving mate selection in our closest relatives," added Breuer.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wildlife Conservation Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Thomas Breuer, Andrew M. Robbins, Christophe Boesch, Martha M. Robbins. Phenotypic correlates of male reproductive success in western gorillas. Journal of Human Evolution, 2012; 62 (4): 466 DOI: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2012.01.006

Cite This Page:

Wildlife Conservation Society. "Bigger gorillas better at attracting mates and raising young." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 May 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120501134416.htm>.
Wildlife Conservation Society. (2012, May 1). Bigger gorillas better at attracting mates and raising young. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 14, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120501134416.htm
Wildlife Conservation Society. "Bigger gorillas better at attracting mates and raising young." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120501134416.htm (accessed September 14, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Newsy (Sep. 14, 2014) — New conservation measures for shark fishing face an uphill PR battle in the fight to slow shark extinction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Newsy (Sep. 13, 2014) — A U.K. survey found that journalists consumed the most amount of coffee, but that's only the tip of the coffee-related statistics iceberg. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) — In a small study, researchers found that the majority of long-time smokers quit after taking psilocybin pills and undergoing therapy sessions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Spinosaurus Could Be First Semi-Aquatic Dinosaur

Spinosaurus Could Be First Semi-Aquatic Dinosaur

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) — New research has shown that the Spinosaurus, the largest carnivorous dinosaur, might have been just as well suited for life in the water as on land. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:  

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile iPhone Android Web
    Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins