Original Article

Primates

, Volume 53, Issue 1, pp 97-108

Interspecific territoriality in gibbons (Hylobates lar and H. pileatus) and its effects on the dynamics of interspecies contact zones

  • Udomlux SuwanvechoAffiliated withEcology Laboratory, Biotec Central Research Unit, National Science and Technology Development AgencyDepartment of Biology, Faculty of Science, Mahidol University Email author 
  • , Warren Y. BrockelmanAffiliated withEcology Laboratory, Biotec Central Research Unit, National Science and Technology Development AgencyDepartment of Biology, Faculty of Science, Mahidol UniversityConservation Genetics and Ecology Group, Institute of Molecular Biosciences, Mahidol University

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Abstract

We investigated the ecology and interspecific interactions of the two gibbon species (Hylobates lar and H. pileatus) that overlap in distribution within a narrow zone of contact in the headwaters of the Takhong River at Khao Yai National Park in central Thailand. The zone is about 10-km wide, with phenotypic hybrids comprising 6.5% of the adult population. We compared species with respect to diet, territory size, intra- and interspecific group encounters, and territory quality. The two gibbon species exploited the same types of resources within their territories despite variation in the relative abundance of food-plant species between territories. The gibbons were interspecifically territorial, and males of both species displayed aggressive behaviors at both intraspecific and interspecific territorial boundaries. There was no marked difference in the amount of overlap between territories of conspecific and heterospecific pairs of groups. Although the habitat was not homogeneous, territory quality did not vary significantly between species. The species have not diverged in habitat preference or in diet. Neither species dominated in interspecific encounters, and both were reproducing well in the contact zone. We analyzed the potential consequences of several types of interspecific interactions on individual dispersal options and on the structure of the contact zone. Interference competition through interspecific territoriality affects the dispersal of individuals into the range of the other species. In general, territorial competition coupled with limited hybridization leads to predictions of a narrow contact zone or parapatry between species; thus, behavioral and ecological interactions between species need to be considered as potential factors in explaining range borders of primate species.

Keywords

Interspecific territoriality Hylobates lar Hylobates pileatus Dispersal Hybrid zone Interspecific contact zone