Nest site ecology of the cross river gorilla at the Kagwene Gorilla Sanctuary, Cameroon, with special reference to anthropogenic influence

Ruth A. De Vere, Ymke Warren, Aaron Nicholas, Mary E. Mackenzie, James P. Higham

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    The Cross River gorilla is the most endangered of all Great Apes. It is currently found in 14 apparently geographically separate and increasingly isolated populations, which face severe threats from habitat loss and the bushmeat trade. Recent years have seen greater efforts to conserve the Cross River gorilla across the landscape, but details of the ecology of individual populations that might help in conservation initiatives are lacking. Here, we report on the production of the first habitat map for the recently created Kagwene Gorilla Sanctuary (KGS), Cameroon, and the results of an analysis of nest site preferences of the gorillas that live there. Qualitative vegetation assessments were made to assign various categories to the topstory and understory throughout the sanctuary, and nest sites constructed between January 2006 and March 2008 were re-visited and assessed for possible site preferences. The habitat map revealed significant anthropogenic impact, with only 57% of the KGS being relatively undisturbed primary forest. Analysis of nest sites showed that ground nests are constructed preferentially in the dry season, on precipitous slopes, in light gaps and clearings, with an understory of mixed herbs. Tree nests are predominantly built in the wet season, in primary forest with saplings as the preferred understory. Gorillas avoid nesting in grasslands and farms, which visibly fragment the remaining forest in the sanctuary. The results have implications for the conservation and management of the Cross River gorilla at KGS, and offer new insight into the nesting ecology of this subspecies.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)253-261
    Number of pages9
    JournalAmerican Journal of Primatology
    Volume73
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Mar 1 2011

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    Keywords

    • Canopy cover
    • Cross River gorilla
    • Habitat mapping
    • Human impacts
    • Land use
    • Nesting ecology
    • Vegetation map

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
    • Animal Science and Zoology

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