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No evidence for female kin association, indications for extragroup paternity, and sex‐biased dispersal patterns in wild western gorillas

Citation

Masi, Shelly et al. (2021), No evidence for female kin association, indications for extragroup paternity, and sex‐biased dispersal patterns in wild western gorillas, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.t4b8gtj1s

Abstract

Characterizing animal dispersal patterns and the rational behind individuals’ transfer choices is a long-standing question of interest in evolutionary biology. In wild western gorillas (Gorilla gorilla), a one-male polygynous species, previous genetic findings suggested that, when dispersing, females might favor groups with female kin to promote cooperation, resulting in higher-than-expected within-group female relatedness. The extent of male dispersal remains unclear with studies showing conflicting results. To investigate male and female dispersal patterns and extra-group paternity, we analyzed long-term field observations, including female spatial proximity data, together with genetic data (10 autosomal microsatellites) on individuals from a unique set of four habituated western gorilla groups, and four additional extra-group males (49 individuals in total). The majority of offspring (25 of 27) were sired by the group male. For two offspring, evidence for extra-group paternity was found. Contrarily to previous findings, adult females were not significantly more related within groups than across groups. Consistently, adult female relatedness within groups did not correlate with their spatial proximity inferred from behavioral data. Adult females were similarly related to adult males from their group than from other groups. Using RST statistics, we found significant genetic structure and a pattern of isolation by distance, indicating limited dispersal in this species. Comparing relatedness among females and among males revealed that males disperse farer than females, as expected in a polygamous species. Our study on habituated western gorillas shed light on the dispersal dynamics and reproductive behavior of this polygynous species and challenge some of the previous results based on unhabituated groups.

Methods

See material and methods of the article.

Usage Notes

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Funding

Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France

Labex BcDiv

Action transversal du Muséum (ATM)

Agence Nationale de la Recherche, Award: SAFAPE

Projets Fédérateurs of the Human and Environment Department of the MNHN

Wildlife Conservation Society

Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France

Labex BcDiv

Action transversal du Muséum (ATM)

Projets Fédérateurs of the Human and Environment Department of the MNHN