International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 25, Issue 5, pp 1043–1072 | Cite as

Dietary Variability of Mountain Gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda

  • Jessica Ganas
  • Martha M. Robbins
  • John Boscoe Nkurunungi
  • Beth A. Kaplin
  • Alastair McNeilage

Abstract

Data on intraspecific dietary variability has important implications for understanding flexibility in foraging behavior, habitat utilization, population dynamics, and social behavior and may also assist in conservation efforts. We compared food availability and diet of a group of mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei) at a high altitude site and 2 groups at a low altitude site in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda, from September 2001 to August 2002. Plant species diversity was greater at the low altitude site than at the high altitude site. The two groups at the low elevation consumed more plant species (140 species vs. 62 species), and a greater number of fruit species per mo (7 vs. 3 species) and per yr (36 vs. 11 species) than the high altitude group did. Furthermore, each group shared <51% of important fibrous food items in their diet with the 2 other groups. There is no significant difference in the proportion of days fruit remains were found in the dung among groups. Finally, according to Ivlev's electivity index, all groups positively selected the majority of food items in their diets. We attribute a large proportion of dietary variation between locations to differences in fruit availability and plant species composition between sites. Differences between groups at the low altitude site may be due to variation in food profitability—more profitable foods available to choose in the same area—within their overlapping home range, or group traditions. A comparison of our results with the diets of gorillas of the Virunga Volcanoes in Rwanda and Kahuzi-Biega, DRC shows that eastern gorilla populations have highly variable dietary patterns with limited overlap in species consumed among groups and populations.

mountain gorilla Gorilla beringei beringei frugivory diet variability food availability 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

REFERENCES

  1. Azama, S. (1973). Acquisition and propagation of food habits in a troop of Japanese monkeys. In Carpenter, C. (ed.), Behavioural Regulation of Behavior in Primates, Bucknell University Press, Lewisburg, pp. 204–292.Google Scholar
  2. Basabose, A. K. (2002). Diet composition of chimpanzees inhabiting the montane forest of Kahuzi, Democratic Republic of Congo. Am. J. Primatol. 58: 1–21.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Butynski, T. M. (1984). Ecological Survey of the Impenetrable (Bwindi) Forest, Uganda, and Rec-ommendations for Its Conservation and Management. Unpublished report to the Uganda Government.Google Scholar
  4. Butynski, T. M. (1990). Comparative ecology of blue monkeys (Cercopithecus mitis) in high-and low-density subpopulations. Ecol. Monogr. 60(1): 1–26.Google Scholar
  5. Byrne, R. W. (1999). Cognition in great ape ecology: Skill-learning ability opens up foraging opportunities. Symp. Zoolog. Soc. Lond. 72: 333–350.Google Scholar
  6. Byrne, R. W., Whiten, A., Henzi, S. P., and McCulloch, F. M. (1993). Nutritional constraints on mountain baboons (Papio ursinus): Implications for baboon socioecology. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 33: 233–246.Google Scholar
  7. Calvert, J. J. (1985). Food selection by western gorillas (G.g. gorilla) in relation to food chemistry. Oecologia 65: 236–246.Google Scholar
  8. Casamir, M. J. (1975). Feeding ecology and nutrition of an eastern gorilla group in the Mt. Kahuzi region (Republique du Zaire). Folia Primatol. 24: 81–136.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Chapman, C., and Fedigan, L. J. (1990). Dietary differences between neighboring Cebus ca-pucinus groups: Local traditions, food availability, or responses to food profitability? Folia Primatol. 54: 177–186.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Chapman, C. A., and Chapman, L. J. (1999). Implications of small scale variation in ecological conditions for the diet and density of red colobus monkeys. Primates 40(1): 215–231.Google Scholar
  11. Chapman, C. A., Chapman, L. J., and Gillespie, T. R. (2002). Scale issues in the study of pri-mate foraging: Red colobus of Kibale National Park. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 117: 349–363.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Cipolletta, C. (2003). Ranging patterns of a western gorilla group during habituation to humans in the Dzanga-Nkoki National Park, Central African Republic. Int. J. Primatol. 24(6): 1207–1226.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Clutton-Brock, T. H. (1975). Feeding behavior of red colobus and black and white colobus in East Africa. Folia Primatol. 23: 165–207.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Clutton-Brock, T. H. (1977). Some aspects of intraspecific variation in feeding and ranging behavior in primates. In Clutton-Brock, T. H. (ed.), Primate Ecology: Studies of Feeding and Ranging Behavior in Lemurs, Monkeys and Apes, Academic Press, London, pp. 539–556Google Scholar
  15. Dasilva, G. (1994). Diet of Colobus polykomos on Tiwai island: Selection of food in relation to its seasonal abundance and nutritional quality. Int. J. Primatol. 15(5): 655–680.Google Scholar
  16. Doran, D. M., and McNeilage, A. (1998). Gorilla ecology and behavior. Evol. Anthropol. 6: 120–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Doran, D. M., and McNeilage, A. (2001). Subspecific variation in gorilla behavior: The influence of ecological and social factors. In Robbins, M. M., Sicotte, P., and Stewart, K. J. (eds.), Mountain Gorillas: Three Decades of Research at Karisoke, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 123–149.Google Scholar
  18. Doran, D. M., McNeilage, A., Greer, D., Bocian, C., Mehlman, P., and Shah, N. (2002). Western lowland gorilla diet and resource availability: New evidence, cross-site comparisons, and reflections on indirect sampling methods. Am. J. Primatol. 58: 91–116.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Dunbar, R. I. (1988). Primate Social Systems, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York.Google Scholar
  20. Fairgrieve, C., and Muhumuza, G. (2003). Feeding ecology and dietary differences between blue monkey (Cercopithecus mitis stuhlmanniiMatschie) groups in logged and unlogged forest, Budongo Forest Reserve, Uganda. Afr. J. Ecol. 41: 141–149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Fashing, P. J. (2001). Feeding ecology of guerezas in the Kakamega forest, Kenya: The impor-tance of moraceae fruit in their diet. Int. J. Primatol. 22(4): 579–609.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Fossey, D., and Harcourt, A. H. (1977). Feeding ecology of free ranging mountain gorillas (Gorilla gorilla beringei). In Clutton-Brock, T. H. (ed.), Primate Ecology: Studies of Feeding and Ranging Behavior in Lemurs, Monkeys and Apes, Academic Press, London, pp. 539–556.Google Scholar
  23. Ghiglieri, M. (1984). The Chimpanzees of Kibale Forest: A Field Study of Ecology and Social Structure. Columbia University Press, New York.Google Scholar
  24. Goldsmith, M. L. (1999). Ecological constraints on the foraging effort of western gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) at Bai Hokou, Central African Republic. Int. J. Primatol. 20: 1–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Goldsmith, M. L. (2003). Comparative behavioral ecology of a lowland and highland gorilla population: Where do Bwindi gorillas fit? In Taylor, A. B., and Goldsmith, M. L. (eds.), Gorilla Biology: A Multidisciplinary Perspective, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 358–384.Google Scholar
  26. Goodall, A. (1977). Feeding and ranging behaviour of a mountain gorilla group (Gorilla gorilla beringei) in the Tshibinda-Kahuzi region (Zaire). In Clutton-Brock, T. H. (ed.), Primate Ecology: Studies of Feeding and Ranging Behavior in Lemurs, Monkeys and Apes, Univer-sity of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp. 449–479.Google Scholar
  27. Goodall, J. (1986). The Chimpanzees of Gombe: Patterns of Behavior, Harvard University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  28. Grieg-Smith, P. (1983). Quantitative Plant Ecology, University of California Press, Berkeley, CA.Google Scholar
  29. Hamilton, A. C. (1975). A quantitative analysis of altitudinal zonation in Uganda forests. Vegetatio 2: 99–106.Google Scholar
  30. Homsy, J. (1999). Ape tourism and human diseases: how close should we get? A critical re-view of the rules and regulations governing park management and tourism for the wild mountain gorilla, Gorilla beringei beringei. Unpublished report to the International Gorilla Conservation Programme.1–79.Google Scholar
  31. Kaplin, B. A., Munyaligoga, V., and Moermond, T. (1998). The influence of temporal changes in fruit availability on diet composition and seed handling in blue monkeys (Cercopithecus mitis doggettii). Biotropica 30(1): 56–71.Google Scholar
  32. Kawai, M. (1965). Newly aquired pre-cultural behavior of the natural troop of Japanese monkeys on Koshima islet. Primates 6(1): 1–30.Google Scholar
  33. Magliocca, F., and Gautier-Hion, A. (2002). Mineral content as a basis for food selection by western lowland gorillas in a forest clearing. Am. J. Primatol. 57: 67–77.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Malenky, R. K., and Stiles, E. W. (1991). Distribution of terrestrial herbaceous vegetation and its consumption by Pan paniscus in the Lomako Forest, Zaire. Am. J. Primatol. 23: 153–169.Google Scholar
  35. McGrew, W. C., Baldwin, P. J., and Tutin, C. E. G. (1988). Wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) at Mt. Assirik, Senegal: I. Composition. Am. J. Primatol. 16: 213–226.Google Scholar
  36. McNeilage, A. (1995). Mountain Gorillas in the Virunga Volcanoes: Ecology and Carrying Capacity, PhD thesis, University of Bristol, United Kingdom.Google Scholar
  37. McNeilage, A. (2001). Diet and habitat use of two mountain gorilla groups in contrasting habitats in the Virungas. In Robbins, M. M., Sicotte, P., and Stewart, K. J. (eds.), Mountain Gorillas: Three Decades of Research at Karisoke, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 265–292.Google Scholar
  38. Milton, K. (1980). The Foraging Strategy of Howler Monkeys: A Study of Primate Economics, Columbia University Press, New York.Google Scholar
  39. Nishida, T., Wrangham, R. W., Goodall, J., and Uehara, S. (1983). Local differences in plant-feeding habits of chimpanzees between the Mahale mountains and Gombe National Park, Tanzania. J. Hum. Evol. 12(5): 467–480.Google Scholar
  40. Nishihara, T. (1995). Feeding ecology of western lowland gorillas in the Nouable-Ndoki National Park, Congo. Primates 36: 151–168.Google Scholar
  41. Nkurunungi, J. B. (2004). The Availability and Distribution of Fruit and Non-Fruit Resources in Bwindi: Their Influence on Gorilla Habitat Use and Food Choice, PhD, Thesis, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda.Google Scholar
  42. Nkurunungi, J. B., Ganas, J., Robbins, M. M., and Stanford, C. B. (2004). A comparison of two mountain gorilla habitats in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda. Afr. J. Ecol.in press.Google Scholar
  43. Norton, G. W., Rhine, R. J., Wynn, G. W., and Wynn, R. D. (1987). Baboon diet: A five-year study of stability and variability in the plant feeding and habitat of the yellow baboons (Papio cynocephalus) of Mikumi National Park, Tanzania. Folia Primatol. 48: 78–120.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Oates, J. F. (1977). The guereza and its food. In T. H. Clutton-Brock (ed)., Primate Ecology: Studies of Feeding and Ranging Behavior in Lemurs, Monkeys and Apes, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp. 275–321.Google Scholar
  45. Oates, J. F. (1987). Food distribution and foraging behavior. In Smuts, B. B., Cheney, D. L., Seyfarth, R. M., and Struhsaker, T. T. (eds.), Primate Societies, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp. 197–209.Google Scholar
  46. Plumptre, A. J. (1995). The chemical composition of montane plants and its influence on the diet of the large mammalian herbivores in the Parc National des Volcans, Rwanda. J. Zool. Lond. 235: 323–337.Google Scholar
  47. Pochron, S. T. (2000). The core dry-season diet of yellow baboons (Papio hamadryas cyno-cephalus) in Ruaha National Park, Tanzania. Folia Primatol. 71: 346–349.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. Post, D. G. (1982). Feeding behavior of yellow baboons (Papio cynocephalus) in the Amboseli National Park, Kenya. Int. J. Primatol. 3(4): 403–430.Google Scholar
  49. Remis, M. J. (1997). Western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) as seasonal frugivores: use of variable resources. Am. J. Primatol. 43: 87–109.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. Remis, M. J., Dierenfeld, E. S., Mowry, C. B., and Carroll, R. W. (2001). Nutritional aspects of western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) diet during seasons of fruit scarcity at Bai Hokou, Central African Republic. Int. J. Primatol. 22(5): 807–836.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Richard, A. (1977). The feeding behavior of Propithecus verreauxi. In Clutton-Brock, T. H. (ed.), Primate Ecology: Studies of Feeding Behavior in Lemurs, Monkeys and Apes, Academic Press, London, pp. 71–96.Google Scholar
  52. Richards, P. W. (1996). The Tropical Rainforest, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  53. Robbins, M. M., and McNeilage, A. J. (2003). Home range and frugivory patterns of mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda. Int. J. Primatol. 24(3): 467–491.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Robbins, M. M., Bermejo, M., Cipolletta, C., Magliocca, F., Parnell, R. J., and Stokes, E. (2004). Social structure and life history patterns in Western gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla). Am. J. Primatol. In Press.Google Scholar
  55. Rogers, M. E., Maisels, F., Williamson, E. A., Tutin, C. E. G., and Fernandez, M. (1990). Gorilla diet in the Lope Reserve, Gabon: A nutritional analysis. Oecologia 84: 326–339.Google Scholar
  56. Rogers, M. E., Williamson, E. A., Tutin, C. E. G., and Fernandez, M. (1988). Effects of the dry season on gorilla diets in Gabon. Primate Rep. 22: 25–33.Google Scholar
  57. Sabater Pi, J. (1977). Contribution to the study of alimentation lowland gorillas in the natural state, in Rio Muni, Republic of Equatorial Guinea (West Africa). Primates 18: 183–204.Google Scholar
  58. Sarmiento, E. E., Butynski, T. M., and Kalina, J. (1996). Gorillas of Bundi-Impenetrable for-est and the Virunga Volcanoes: Taxonomic implications of morphological and ecological differences. Am. J. Primatol. 40(1): 1–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Schaller, G. (1963). The Mountain Gorilla: Ecology and Behavior, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.Google Scholar
  60. Schoener, T. W. (1971). Theory of feeding strategies. Annu. Rev. Ecol. Syst.2:369–404.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Stanford, C. B., and Nkurunungi, J. B. (2003). Behavioral ecology of sympatric chimpanzees and gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda: Diet. Int. J. Primatol. 24(4): 901–918.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Stephens, D. W., and Krebs, J. R. (1986). Foraging Theory, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.Google Scholar
  63. Sterck, E. H. M., Watts, D. P., and van Schaik, C. P. (1997). The evolution of female social relationships in nonhuman primates. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 41(5): 291–309.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Sun, C., Kaplin, B. A., Kristensen, K. A., Munyaligogo, V., Mvukiyjmwami, J., Kajonda, K., and Moermond, T. C. (1996). Tree phenology in a tropical montane forest of Rwanda. Biotropica 28: 668–681.Google Scholar
  65. Tutin, C. E. G., and Fernandez, M. (1985). Foods consumed by sympatric populations of Gorilla g. gorillaand Pan t. troglodytesin Gabon: Some preliminary data. Int. J. Primatol. 6(1): pp. 27–43.Google Scholar
  66. van Schaik, C. P. (1989). The ecology of social relationships amongst female primates. In Standen, V., Foley, R. A. (eds.), Comparative Socioecology: The Behavioural Ecology of Humans and Other Mammals, Blackwell scientific publications, Oxford, pp. 195–218.Google Scholar
  67. Vedder, A. L. (1984). Movement patterns of a free-ranging group of mountain gorillas (Gorilla gorilla beringei) and their relation to food availability. Am. J. Primatol. 7(2): 73–88.Google Scholar
  68. Vedder, A. L. (1990). Feeding Ecology and Conservation of the Mountain Gorilla, PhD. Thesis, University of Wisconsin, MS.Google Scholar
  69. Waterman, P. G., Choo, G. M., Vedder, A. L., and Watts, D. (1983). Digestibility, digestion-inhibitors and nutrients of herbaceous foliage and green stems from an African montane flora and comparison with other tropical flora. Oecologia 60: 244–249.Google Scholar
  70. Watts, D. P. (1984). Composition and variability of mountain gorilla diets in the central virungas. Am. J. Primatol.7:323–356.Google Scholar
  71. Watts, D. P. (1990). Mountain gorilla life histories, reproductive competition, and sociosexual behavior and some implications for captive husbandry. Zoo Biol.9:185–200.Google Scholar
  72. Watts, D. P. (1996). Comparative socio-ecology of gorillas. In McGrew, W. C., Marchant, L. F., and Nishida, T. (eds.), Great Ape Societies, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 16–28.Google Scholar
  73. Williamson, E. A., Tutin, C. E. G., Rogers, M. E., and Fernandez, M. (1990). Composition of the diet of lowland gorillas at Lope in Gabon. Am. J. Primatol. 21: 265–277.Google Scholar
  74. Wrangham, R. W. (1980). An ecological model of female-bonded primate groups. Behavior 75: 262–300.Google Scholar
  75. Yamagiwa, J., Mwanza, N., Yumoto, T., and Maruhashi, T. (1992). Travel distances and food habits of eastern lowland gorillas: A comparative analysis. In Itoigawa, N., Sugiyama, Y., and Sackett, G.P. (eds.), Topics in Primatology, Vol. 2: Behavior, Ecology and Conservation, University of Tokyo Press, Tokyo, pp. 267–281.Google Scholar
  76. Yamagiwa, J., Mwanza, M., Yumoto, T., and Maruhashi, T. (1994). Seasonal change in the composition of the diet of eastern lowland gorillas. Primates 35(1): 1–14.Google Scholar
  77. Yamagiwa, J., Maruhashi, T., Yumoto, T., and Mwanza, N. (1996). Dietary and ranging overlap in sympatric gorillas and chimpanzees in Kahuzi-Biega National Park, Zaire. In McGrew, W. C., Marchant, L. F., and Nishida, T. (eds.), Great Ape Societies, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 82–98.Google Scholar
  78. Yumoto, T., Yamagiwa, J., Mwanza, N., and Maruhashi, T. (1994). List of plant species identified in Kahuzi-Biega National Park, Zaire. Tropics 3: 295–308.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jessica Ganas
    • 1
    • 2
  • Martha M. Robbins
    • 1
  • John Boscoe Nkurunungi
    • 3
  • Beth A. Kaplin
    • 2
  • Alastair McNeilage
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary AnthropologyLeipzigGermany
  2. 2.Antioch New England Graduate SchoolNew Hampshire;England
  3. 3.Makerere University Institute of Environment and Natural ResourcesKampalaUganda
  4. 4.Institute for Tropical Forest ConservationKabaleUganda
  5. 5.Wildlife Conservation SocietyBronxU.S.A

Personalised recommendations