Relationship Between Aggression and Group Composition in Female Lowland Gorillas
Abstract: Gorillas are an intelligent and fascinating species. They are very complex animals that can even learn sign language. Females are very caring to their young in raising them for years and won't abandon them like some other species do. Differences in aggressive behaviors among different groups of female Western Lowland Gorillas (Gorilla gorilla) will be investigated. Groups containing only females, females and a male, and females with young will be observed at two zoos in Canada. Aggressive behaviors in females will be observed and categorized to determine if group composition does have an effect on aggression.
Background: Generally, Western Lowland Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla) groups consist of a silverback male, a few immature males, and several females and young (Gould 1993). Silverbacks are the leaders of the groups, and are named as such because the hair on their back turns from black to silvery gray as they mature (Watts 1985). Immature males range from eight to twelve years old. Males may travel on their own to search for mates, and females will leave a group only when there are no suitable mates available (Mace 1988). Aggression is very important in establishing hierarchies in groups.
Gorillas show aggression by biting, hitting another gorilla or object, beating their chest, baring their teeth, charging, and grabbing at infant gorillas.Silverbacks maintain order within groups by reducing the amount of aggression shown by males and females. They do this by beating their chest, charging, and baring their teeth. Sometimes they will make a large roar at other gorillas. All group members listen to him because he is the biggest,strongest, and offers them protection (Maple 1982). Gorillas are distinguishable from one another by their facial features, especially their nose prints (Weber 2001). Nose prints are the creases on their nos…

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