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Data from: Mothers may shape the variations in social organization among gorillas

Cite this dataset

Robbins, Andrew M. et al. (2016). Data from: Mothers may shape the variations in social organization among gorillas [Dataset]. Dryad.


When mothers continue to support their offspring beyond infancy, they can influence the fitness of those offspring, the strength of social relationships within their groups, and the life-history traits of their species. Using up to 30 years of demographic data from 58 groups of gorillas in two study sites, this study extends such findings by showing that mothers may also contribute to differences in social organization between closely related species. Female mountain gorillas remained with their sons for significantly longer than western gorillas, which may explain why male philopatry and multimale groups are more common among mountain gorillas. The presence of the putative father and other familiar males did not vary significantly between species, and we found only limited support for the socio-ecological theory that the distribution of adult males is influenced by the distribution of females. Within each gorilla species, variations in those distributions may also reflect the different stages in the typical life cycle of a group. Collectively, our results highlight the potentially far-reaching consequences of maternal support that extends beyond infancy, and they illustrate the opportunity to incorporate additional factors into phylogenetic analyses of variations in social organization, including studies of human evolution.

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Republic of Congo