Advertisement

Primates

, Volume 59, Issue 3, pp 253–265 | Cite as

Body signals used during social play in captive immature western lowland gorillas

  • Erin A. WeigelEmail author
  • Carol M. Berman
Original Article

Abstract

The play face is a well-established play signal in nonhuman primates that functions to invite play and convey a playful intent. However, recent evidence indicates that some species display repertoires of play signals that may have more specific meanings related to particular aspects of play. Furthermore, previous studies have inconsistently categorized gorilla behaviors as play signals versus actual play. Here we aim to identify behaviors displayed by two immature captive western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) at the Buffalo Zoo that meet three necessary criteria to be considered play signals. Specifically, we (1) investigate whether 21 candidate signals are significantly different from actual play behaviors, (2) and from similar signals used in non-play contexts, and (3) determine whether they predict the occurrence of social play. The results indicate that at least 18 of the 21 candidate signals have strong support for classification as play signals. These findings represent first steps in determining the function of multiple play signals in gorillas.

Keywords

Play signals Communication Gorillas 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank the Buffalo Zoo for permission to study their gorilla group, and M. Dent, E. Mercado and S. Margulis for helpful suggestions in developing this study.

References

  1. Bekoff M (1974) Social play and play-soliciting by infant canids. Am Zool 14:323–340CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bennett C, Fried J (1990) Dallas Zoo. Gorilla Ethology StudyGoogle Scholar
  3. Brown S (1988) Play behaviour in lowland gorillas: age differences, sex differences, and possible functions. Primates 29:219–228CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. de Waal F, Yoshihara D (1983) Reconciliation and redirected affection in rhesus monkeys. Behaviour 85:224–241CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. duBois T, Mead J, Cox C (1991) Lowland gorillas: ethogram (Los Angeles Zoo). Gorilla Behavior Advisory Group, compilers. Compilation of gorilla ethograms. Atlanta, Atlanta/Fulton County Zoo, pp 27–36Google Scholar
  6. Field A (2005) Discovering statistics using SPSS, 2nd edn. Sage, LondonGoogle Scholar
  7. Fröhlich M, Wittig R, Pika S (2016) Play-solicitation gestures in chimpanzees in the wild: flexible adjustment to social circumstances and individual matrices. R Soc open sci 3:160278CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  8. Genty E, Breuer T, Hobaiter C et al (2009) Gestural communication of the gorilla (Gorilla gorilla): repertoire, intentionality and possible origins. Anim Cognit 12:527–546CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Luef EM, Liebal K (2012) Infant-directed communication in lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla): do older animals scaffold communicative competence in infants? Am J Primatol 74(9):841–852CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Ogden J, Schildkraut D, Baker A, Beck BB, Bennett C, duBois T et al (1991) Compilation of gorilla ethograms. Gorilla Species Survival Plan, Gorilla Behavior Advisory Group, Atlanta, GeorgiaGoogle Scholar
  11. Palagi E (2008) Sharing the motivation to play: the use of signals in adult bonobos. Anim Behav 75(3):887–896CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Palagi E, Antonacci D, Cordoni G (2007) Fine-tuning of social play in juvenile lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla). Dev Psychobiol 49:433–445CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Pellis S, Pellis V (1996) On knowing it’s only play: the role of play signals in play fighting. Aggress Violent Behav 1:249–268CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Pika S, Liebal K, Tomasello M (2003) Gestural communication in young gorillas (Gorilla gorilla): gestural repertoire, learning, and use. Am J Primatol 60:95–111CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Tanner J, Byrne R (2010) Triadic and collaborative play by gorillas in social games with objects. Anim Cognit 13:591–607CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Tanner J, Patterson F, Byrne R (2006) The development of spontaneous gestures in zoo-living gorillas and sign-taught gorillas: from action and location to object representation. J Dev Process 1:69–103Google Scholar
  17. Tomasello M, Call J, Nagell K, Olguin R, Carpenter M (1994) The learning and use of gestural signals by young chimpanzees: a trans-generational study. Primates 35(2):137–154CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Yanagi A, Berman C (2014a) Body signals during social play in free-ranging rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta): a systematic analysis. Am J Primatol 76:168–179CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Yanagi A, Berman C (2014b) Functions of multiple play signals in free-ranging juvenile rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta). Behaviour 151:1983–2014CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Japan Monkey Centre and Springer Japan KK, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Evolution, Ecology and BehaviorUniversity at Buffalo, The State University of New York | SUNY BuffaloBuffaloUSA
  2. 2.Department of AnthropologyUniversity at BuffaloBuffaloUSA

Personalised recommendations