Wednesday, 27 May 2015

How female mountain gorillas in Rwanda avoid inbreeding with their fathers

Mountain gorillas in Rwanda could run the risk of inbreeding, as females often stay in their natal group well into adulthood, which means living closely with their fathers, usually the dominant male in the group.

However, in these circumstances they appear tactically to avoid mating with their fathers, according to Linda Vigilant and her research group from the Max Planck Institute for Anthropology in Germany, published in Springer’s journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology.

This strategy works so well that the chances of alpha gorilla males siring the offspring of their own daughters are extremely remote. 

To clearly establish the paternity of 97 mountain gorillas, Vigilant’s group did genetic tests on fecal samples collected since 1999. These included 79 gorillas born into four of the mountain gorilla groups monitored since 1967 by Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund researchers.

The researchers found that on average seven out of every 10 offspring (72 per cent) in a group with more than one male present, are sired by the dominant male.

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