Gorilla and chimpanzee coexistence

Goualougo_Chimp_Gorilla_CofeedThe Congo Basin is comprised of a mosaic of evolving landscapes in which the floral diversity and structure exhibit a high degree of spatiotemporal heterogeneity. These forests also support an impressive array of primates, including the world’s largest concentrations of great apes. Chimpanzee and gorilla densities are not uniform across this region. Our previous studies have shown that relative ape abundance is closely tied to the distribution of habitat types within a landscape and dietary preferences which can shift over relatively small spatial scales [Morgan et al. 2006 Ape Abundance and Habitat Use] [Morgan and Sanz 2006 Chimpanzee and Gorilla Feeding Ecology]

The widespread coexistence of gorillas and chimpanzees has intrigued scientists for decades, but the details characterizing their relationship have remained elusive to field primatologists. The Goualougo Triangle is one of a few sites where direct observations of both western lowland gorillas and central chimpanzees can be made in the same range. The research team of the Goualougo Triangle Ape Project has repeatedly observed gorillas and chimpanzees gathering in the canopy of large fruiting trees to forage or nest within arm’s reach of each other, challenging long-held notions about the ecological relationship between great apes. We believe our research investigating sympatric chimpanzees and gorillas will be highly instructive when developing conservation strategies for the long term survival of these apes in natural and human modified environments.


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