CZAAWE Resource Article

Western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) change their activity patterns in response to frugivory
Publication Type 
Journal Article
Year of publication 
American Journal of Primatology
02752565 10982345
The most important environmental factor explaining interspecies variation in ecology and sociality of the great apes is likely to be variation in resource availability. Relatively little is known about the activity patterns of western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla), which inhabit a dramatically different environment from the well-studied mountain gorillas (G. beringei beringei). This study aims to provide a detailed quantification of western lowland gorillas' activity budgets using direct observations on one habituated group in Bai Hokou, Central African Republic. We examined how activity patterns of both sexes are shaped by seasonal frugivory. Activity was recorded with 5-min instantaneous sampling between December 2004 and December 2005. During the high-frugivory period the gorillas spent less time feeding and more time traveling than during the low-frugivory period. The silverback spent less time feeding but more time resting than both females and immatures, which likely results from a combination of social and physiological factors. When compared with mountain gorillas, western lowland gorillas spend more time feeding (67 vs. 55%) and traveling (12 vs. 6.5%), but less time resting (21 vs. 34%) and engaging in social/other activities (0.5 vs. 3.6%). This disparity in activity budgets of western lowland gorillas and mountain gorillas may be explained by the more frugivorous diet and the greater dispersion of food resources experienced by western lowland gorillas. Like other apes, western lowland gorillas change their activity patterns in response to changes in the diet.