Availability of fruit is an important factor influencing variation in great ape foraging strategies and activity patterns. This study aims to quantify how frugivory influences activity budgets across age‐sex classes of mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda.
Materials and methods
Daily proportions of fruit‐feeding and activity budgets were calculated using 6 years of observational data on four habituated groups. We fitted generalized linear mixed models to test for age‐sex differences in the amount of fruit‐feeding, and to test whether these factors influence the proportion of time spent feeding, resting, and traveling.
Bwindi mountain gorillas spent on average 15% of feeding time consuming fruit, with monthly variation ranging from 0 to 70%. Greater amounts of fruit‐feeding were associated with more time feeding and traveling, and less time resting. Immatures tended to spend more feeding time on fruit than adults, but less overall time feeding and more time traveling. There were no significant differences in the amount of fruit‐feeding and overall feeding time between adult females and silverback males, despite differences in body size.
This study confirms that gorillas are frugivorous, and only the Virunga mountain gorilla population can be characterized as highly folivorous. Along with other frugivorous great apes, Bwindi mountain gorillas alter their activity patterns in response to varying amounts of fruit in their diet. A better understanding of how variable ecological conditions can drive diversity even within a subspecies has important implications for understanding relationships between ecology, body size, and foraging strategies in great apes.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.