Gorillas are widely assumed to be non-territorial due to the large areas in which they live and roam.
However, new research suggests that these animals are territorial and have more complex social structures than previously thought: they basically defend the centers of the wide areas where they reside against neighboring groups .
To arrive at these new conclusions regarding gorilla territoriality, large-scale camera capture was used to monitor eight groups of western gorillas (113 individuals in total) in an area of 60 square kilometers in the Republic of Congo .
It was thus discovered that gorillas tend to avoid feeding in areas that had been visited by another group that day.
Cambridge University researcher Robin Morrison and colleagues Anglia Ruskin University, the University of Barcelona, the SPAC Network of Scientific Field Stations, and the University of Vienna suggest that gorillas may avoid the centers of other groups’ areas. to avoid conflicts, since these regions can be defended with physical attacks or blows to the chest .
Lead author Robin Morrison , who conducted the study during her PhD at Cambridge University, says these findings indicate that interactions between groups are influenced by social and family relationships and territoriality:
At the same time, the groups can overlap and even peacefully coexist in other regions of their range. The flexible defense system and shared space implies the presence of a complex social structure in gorillas.