Termite Feeding by Gorilla gorilla gorilla at Bai Hokou, Central African Republic

  • Chloé Cipolletta
  • Noemi Spagnoletti
  • Angelique Todd
  • Martha M. Robbins
  • Heather Cohen
  • Sarah Pacyna
Article

Abstract

Though insectivory by large-bodied gorillas may be unexpected, researchers have reported it in all populations of gorillas studied to date. Our study of 2 well monitored groups of western gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) at Bai Hokou in Dzanga-Ndoki National Park, Central African Republic provides information on frequency and variability of termite consumption (the most commonly eaten insect) as well as some of the first direct observations of the behavior. Pooled data from both groups indicate termite feeding on 34% and 83% of days, through fecal analysis and feeding trails, respectively. Direct observations revealed that termite feeding occurred on 91% of the days for 1 group, in which the silverback fed on termites during 13% of all feeding scans, making termites the most commonly observed food item. The group that had a higher density of termite mounds in its home range consumed termites more frequently than the other group did. A higher proportion of fecal samples from the silverbacks contained termite remains than the ones from adult females and juveniles. Termite consumption was lower during the dry season, but it does not correlate with rainfall, measures of fruit availability, or fruit consumption. Displacements at termite mounds occurred more than expected, indicating that they are a patchy, sought-after food resource. Gorillas did not use tools to extract termites, but they used 2 different techniques to remove them from the cells. Though culture or social traditions may cause the variation in termite consumption across sites, further investigation of termite availability and consumption is necessary to rule out ecological and methodological explanations for observed variations.

Keywords

Central African Republic western gorilla insectivory termite 

References

  1. Blom, A., Cipolletta, C., Brunsting, A. M. H., & Prins, H. H. T. (2004). Behavioral responses of gorillas to habituation in the Dzanga-Ndoki National Park, Central African Republic. International Journal of Primatology, 25, 179–196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Boesch, C., & Boesch, H. (1990). Tool use and tool making in wild chimpanzees. Folia Primatolica, 54, 86–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Calvert, J. J. (1985). Food selection by western gorillas (G. g. gorilla) in relation to food chemistry. Oecologia, 65, 236–246.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Carroll, R. (1986). Status of the lowland gorilla and other wildlife in the Dzanga-Sangha region of southwestern Central African Republic. Primate Conservation, 7, 38–41.Google Scholar
  5. Carroll, R. W. (1997). Feeding Ecology of Lowland Gorillas in the Dzanga-Sangha Dense Forest Reserve of the Central African Republic. Ph.D. thesis, Yale University, New Haven, CT.Google Scholar
  6. Cipolleta, C. (2003) Ranging patterns of a western gorilla group (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) during habituation to humans in the Dzanga-Ndoki National Park, Central African Republic. International Journal of Primatology, 24, 1207–1226.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Deblauwe, I., Dupain, J., Nguenang, G., Werdenich, D., & Van Elsacker, L. (2003). Insectivory by Gorilla gorilla gorilla in Southeast Cameroon. International Journal of Primatology, 24, 493–502.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Doran, D. M., & McNeilage, A. (1998). Gorilla ecology and behavior. Evolutionary Anthropology, 6, 120–131.Google Scholar
  9. Doran, D. M., & McNeilage, A. (2001). Subspecific variation in gorilla behavior: The influence of ecological and social factors. In M. M. Robins, P. Sicotte, & K. J. Stewart (Eds.), Mountain gorillas: Three decades of research at Karisoke (pp. 123–149). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Doran, D. M., McNeilage, A., Greer, D., Bocian, C., Mehlman, P., & Shah, N. (2002). Western lowland gorilla diet and resource availability: New evidence, cross-site comparisons, and reflections on indirect sampling methods. American Journal Primatology, 58, 91–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Doran-Sheehy, D. M., Greer, D., Mongo, P., & Schwindt, D. (2004). Impact of ecological and social factors on ranging in western gorillas. American Journal of Primatology, 64, 207–222.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Doran-Sheehy, D. M., Shah, N. F., & Heimbauer, L. A. (2006). Sympatric western gorilla and mangabey diet: reexamination of ape and monkey foraging strategies. In G. Hohmman, M. M. Robbins, & C. Boesch (Eds.), Feeding ecology of apes and other primates (pp. 49–72). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Fox, E. A., van Schaik, C. P., Sitompul, A., & Wright, D. N. (2004). Intra-and interpopulational differences in orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) activity and diet: Implications for the invention of tool use. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 125, 162–174.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Ganas, J., & Robbins, M. M. (2004). Intrapopulation differences in ant eating in the mountain gorillas of Bwindi Impenetratable National Park, Uganda. Primates, 45, 275–279.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Goldsmith, M. (1996). Ecological influences on the ranging and grouping behavior of Western Lowland Gorillas at Bai Hokou, Central African Republic. Ph.D. thesis, State University of New York, Stony Brook, NY.Google Scholar
  16. Goldsmith, M. (1999) Ecological constraints on the foraging effort of western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) at Bai Hokou, Central African Republic. International Journal of Primatology, 20, 1–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Goodall, J. (1963). Feeding behaviour of wild chimpanzees. A preliminary report. Symposia of the Zoological Society of London, 10, 39–48.Google Scholar
  18. Goodall, J. (1986). The chimpanzees of Gombe: Patterns of behavior. Cambridge, Ma: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Harcourt, A. H., & Harcourt, S. A. (1984). Insectivory by gorillas. Folia Primatolica, 43, 229–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Isbell, L. A. (1998) Diet for a small primate: Insectivory and gummivory in the (large) patas monkey (Erythrocebus patas pyrrhonotus). American Journal of Primatology, 45, 381–398.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kay, R. F. (1984). On the use of anatomical features to infer foraging behaviour in extinct primates. In P. S. Rodman & J. G. H. Cant (Eds.), Adaptations for Foraging in Nonhuman Primates (pp. 21–53). New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Kuroda, S., Nishihara, T., Suzuki, S., & Oko, R. (1996). Sympatric chimpanzees and gorillas in the Ndoki Forest, Congo. In W. McGrew, L. Marchant, & T. Nishida (Eds.), Great Ape Societies (pp. 71–81). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  23. McGrew, W. C. (2001). The other faunivory: Primate insectivory and early human diet. In C. B. Standford, & H. T. Bunn (Eds.), Meat-eating and human evolution (pp. 160–178). NewYork: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  24. McGrew, W. C., & Collins, D. A. (1985). Tool use by wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) to obtain termites (Macrotermes herus) in the Mahale Mountains, Tanzania. American Journal of Primatology, 9, 47–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Milton, K. (2003). The critical role played by animal source foods in human (Homo) evolution. Journal of Nutrition, 133, 3886S–3892S.Google Scholar
  26. Nishida, T., & Hiraiwa, M. (1982). Natural history of a tool-using behavior by wild chimpanzees in feeding upon wood-boring ants. Journal of Human Evolution, 11, 73–99).Google Scholar
  27. Nishihara, T. (1995). Feeding ecology of western lowland gorillas in the Nouabale-Ndoki National Park, Congo. Primates, 36, 151–168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Nishihara, T., & Kuroda, S. (1991). Soil-scratching behaviour by western lowland gorillas. Folia Primatologica, 57, 48–51.Google Scholar
  29. Panger, M. A., Perry, S., Rose, L., Gros-Louis, J., Vogel, E., Mackinnon, K. C., et al. (2002). Cross-site differences in foraging behavior of white-faced capuchins. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 119, 52–66.Google Scholar
  30. Remis, M. (1994). Feeding ecology and positional behavior of Western Lowland Gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) in the Central African Republic. Ph. D. thesis, Yale University, New Haven, CT.Google Scholar
  31. Remis, M. J. (1997a). Western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) as seasonal frugivores: Use of variable resources. American Journal of Primatology, 4, 87–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Remis, M. J. (1997b). Ranging and grouping patterns of western lowland gorilla group at Bai Hokou, Central African Republic. American Journal of Primatology, 43, 111–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Remis, M. J. (2000). Initial studies on the contributions of body size and gastrointestinal passage rates to dietary flexibility among gorillas. Amercan Journal of Physical Anthropology, 112, 171–180.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Remis, M. J. (2002). Food preferences among captive western gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) and chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). International Journal of Primatology, 23, 231–249.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Remis, M. J. (2003). Are gorillas vacuum cleaners of the forest floor? The roles of gorilla body size, habitat and food preferences on dietary flexibility and nutrition. In A. B. Taylor, & M. L. Goldsmith (Eds.), Gorilla Biology: A Multidisciplinary Perspective (pp. 385–404). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Rhine, R. J., Norton, G. W., Wynn, G. M., Wynn, R. D., & Rhine, H. B. (1986). Insect and meat eating among infant and adult baboons (Papio cynocephalus) of Mikumi National Park, Tanzania. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 70, 105–118.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Richard, A. (1985). Primates in nature. New York: Freeman.Google Scholar
  38. Rogers, M. E., Abernethy, K., Bermejo, M., Cipolletta, C., Doran, D., McFarland, K., et al. (2004). Western gorilla diet: A synthesis from six sites. American Journal of Primatology, 64, 161–172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Rose, L. M. (1994). Sex differences in diet and foraging behavior in white-faced capuchins (Cebus capucinus). International Journal of Primatology, 15, 95–114.Google Scholar
  40. Sanz, C., Morgan, D., & Gulick, S. (2004). New insights into chimpanzees, tools, and termites from the Congo Basin. American Naturalist, 164, 567–581.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Schaller, G. (1963). The Mountain Gorilla: Ecology and Behavior. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  42. Su, H., & Lee, L. (2001). Food habits of Formosan rock macaques (Macaca cyclopis) in Jentse, Northeastern Taiwan, assessed by fecal analysis and behavioral observation. International Journal of Primatology, 22, 359–377.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Tutin, C. E. G. (1996). Ranging and social structure of lowland gorillas in the Lopé Reserve, Gabon. In W. McGrew, L. Marchant, & T. Nishida (Eds.), Great Ape Societies (pp. 58–70). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  44. Tutin, C. E. G., & Fernandez, M. (1983). Gorillas feeding on termites in Gabon, West Africa. Journal of Mammalogy 64, 530–531.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Tutin, C. E. G., & Fernandez, M. (1992). Insect-eating by sympatric lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) and chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) in the Lopé reserve, Gabon. American Journal of Primatology, 28, 41–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Tutin, C. E. G., & Fernandez, M. (1993). Faecal analysis as a method of describing diets of apes: Examples from sympatric gorillas and chimpanzees at Lope’, Gabon. Tropics, 2, 189–197.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. van Schaik, C. P., Ancrenaz, M., Borgen, G., Galdikas, B., Knott, D. C., Singleton, I., et al. (2003). Orangutan cultures and the evolution of material culture. Science, 299, 102–105.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Watts, D. P. (1989). Ant eating behaviour of mountain gorillas. Primates, 30, 121–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. White, L. J. T. (1994). Biomass of rain forest mammals in the Lopé Reserve, Gabon. Journal of Animal Ecology, 63, 499–512.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. White, L. J. T., Rogers, M. E., Titin, C. E. G., Williamson, E. A., & Fernandez, M. (1995). Herbaceous vegetation in different forest types in the Lopé Reserva, Gabon: Implications for keystone food availability. African Journal of Ecology, 33, 124–141.Google Scholar
  51. Whitten, A., Goodall, J., McGrew, W. C., Nishida, T., Reynolds, V., Sugiyama, Y., (1999). Cultures in chimpanzees. Nature, 399, 682–685.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Whitten, A., Goodall, J., McGrew, W. C., Nishida, T., Reynolds, V., Sugiyama, Y., et al. (2001). Charting cultural variation in chimpanzees. Behaviour, 138, 1481–1516.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Williamson, E. A. (1988). Behavioral Ecology of Western Lowland Gorillas in Gabon. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Stirling, Stirling, UK.Google Scholar
  54. Yamagiwa, J., Angoué-Ovono, S., & Kasisi, R. (1995). Densities of apes’ food trees and primates in the Petit Loango Reserve, Gabon. African Study Monograph, 16, 181–193.Google Scholar
  55. Yamagiwa, J., Mwanza, N., Yumoto, T., & Maruhashi, T. (1991). Ant eating by eastern lowland gorillas. Primates, 32(2), 247–253.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chloé Cipolletta
    • 1
  • Noemi Spagnoletti
    • 3
  • Angelique Todd
    • 2
  • Martha M. Robbins
    • 2
  • Heather Cohen
    • 1
  • Sarah Pacyna
    • 1
  1. 1.World Wildlife FundDzanga-Sangha ProjectBanguiCentral African Republic
  2. 2.Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary AnthropologyLeipzigGermany
  3. 3.Università La SapienzaRomaItaly

Personalised recommendations