, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 35–47

The influence of male mating tactics on habitat use in mountain gorillas (Gorilla gorilla beringei)


  • David P. Watts
    • Department of Biological Anthropology and AnatomyDuke University

DOI: 10.1007/BF02381484

Cite this article as:
Watts, D.P. Primates (1994) 35: 35. doi:10.1007/BF02381484


Previous research has shown that both ecological and social factors influence mountain gorilla habitat use. New data on habitat use by a male gorilla and by a group confirm that male mating competition influences short- and long-term habitat use patterns, and show that its influence can supersede that of ecological factors on a long-term basis. When solitary, the male regularly approached and sometimes followed groups. His monthly home range size and equitability of home range use were directly proportional to the number of such interactions per month. His relationships with other groups became more conservative after he gained females, and, contrary to expectations based on metabolic needs, he used a much smaller area. The group considered here gradually expanded its home range and shifted its areas of intensive use throughout a three-year period. It then made a complete home range shift after three dramatic interactions, during which it was temporarily fragmented and two females emigrated. The group shared its home range with many other social units; overlap with most of these decreased after the shift. The degree of overlap and the lack of site fidelity by males and their groups support the argument that transfer is not ecologically costly to mountain gorilla females.

Key Words

Mountain gorillas Male mating competition Habitat use Female transfer

Copyright information

© Japan Monkey Centre 1994