An Analysis of Gorillas as Zoogeomorphic Agents
Gorillas are among the most charismatic and well-researched species on the planet, yet their role as zoogeomorphic agents has gone largely overlooked. Knowledge on how gorillas contribute to landscape formation and decay is vital for future conservation planning and habitat suitability modeling. The purpose of this study is to conduct a content analysis of literature to identify gorilla zoogeomorphic activity and to aggregate and organize data into nine zoogeomorphic categories. Data obtained was used to provide a qualitative and quantitative summary of inter/intra-specific gorilla zoogeomorphic activity, and the extent of literature available on the subject. Categories of gorilla zoogeomorphic activity include: (1) soil scratching and (2) soil scraping of the forest floor; (3) excavating chambers and holes; (4) bare/semi-bare soil nest site building; (5) hand/knuckle and footprints; (6) excavating insect mounds; (7) tool use and associated geomorphic implications (8) trunk uprooting, and (9) trampling. All four gorilla sub-species (G. gorilla, G. beringei, G. graueri, G. dielhi) were represented in the literature with evidence presented from nine countries in central Africa. Nest construction, mound disturbance, and excavated surface depressions were most frequently documented. Nests and mounds each made up 22 percent and excavated holes encompassed 16 percent of the literature. Soil-scraping, tool use, and trunk uprooting were poorly represented making up 6 percent, 1 percent, and 2 percent of the total literature, respectively.
Belete M, Deng J, Zhou M, Wang K, You S, Hong Y, Weston M. 2018. A new approach to modeling water balance in Nile River Basin, Africa. Sustainability 10(3): 810
Blom A, Kpanou JB, Prins HHT, Almaši A, Heitkönig IMA. 2001. A survey of the apes in the Dzanga-Ndoki National Park, Central African Republic: A comparison
between the census and survey methods of estimating the gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) and chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) nest group density. African Journal
of Ecology 39(1): 98-105.
Booth S.N. 1971. Observations on the teeth of the mountain gorilla (Gorilla gorilla beringei). American Journal of Physical Anthropology 34(1): 85-88.
Breuer T, Ndoundou-Hockemba M, Fishlock V. 2005. First observation of tool use in wild gorillas. PLoS Biology 3(11): e380.
Butler DR. 1992. The grizzly bear as an erosional agent in mountainous terrain. Zeitschrift für Geomorphologie 36(2): 179-189.
——— 1995. Zoogeomorphology-Animals as geomorphic agents. Cambridge University Press New York NY.
Butler DR, Sawyer CF. 2012. Introduction to the special issue-zoogeomorphology and ecosystem engineering. Geomorphology 157-158(2012): 1-5.
Carroll RW. 1986. Status of the lowland gorilla and other wildlife in the Dzanga-Sangha Region of southwestern Central African Republic. Primate Conservation 7:
Casimir MJ. 1979. An analysis of gorilla nesting sites of the Mt. Kahuzi region (Zaïre). Folia Primatologica 32(4): 290-308.
Cipolletta C, Spagnoletti N, Todd A, Robbins MM, Cohen H, Pacyna S. 2006. Termite feeding by Gorilla gorilla gorilla at Bai Hokou, Central African Republic.
International Journal of Primatology 28(2): 457-476.
Fossey D. 1983. Gorillas in the Mist. Houghton Mifflin Company Boston MA.
Grueter CC, Robbins MM, Ndagijimana F, Stoinski TS. 2013. Possible tool use in a mountain gorilla. Behavioural Processes 100: 160-162.
Kayiranga A, Ndayisaba F, Nahayo L, Karamage F, Nsengiyumva JB, Mupenzi C, Nyesheja EM. 2017. Analysis of climate and topography impacts on the spatial
distribution of vegetation in the Virunga Volcanoes massif of east-central Africa. Geosciences (Switzerland) 7(17): 1-18.
Mahaney WC. 1993. Scanning electron microscopy of earth mined and eaten by mountain gorillas in the Virunga Mountains, Rwanda. Primates 34(3): 311-319.
Mahaney WC, Watts DP, Hancock RGV. 1990. Geophagia by mountain gorillas (Gorilla gorilla beringei) in the Virunga Mountains, Rwanda. Primates 31: 113-120.
Manning JT, Chamberlain AT. 1994. Fluctuating asymmetry in gorilla canines: A sensitive indicator of environmental stress. Proceedings: Biological Sciences
Matarazzo S. 2013. Manual pressure distribution patterns of knuckle-walking apes. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 152(1): 44-50.
Mehlman PT, Doran DM. 2002. Influencing western gorilla nest construction at Mondika Research Center. International Journal of Primatology 23(6): 1257-1285.
Nishihara T, Kuroda S. 1991. Soil-scratching behaviour by western lowland gorillas. Folia Primatol 57(1): 48-51.
Plumptre AJ. 1993. The effects of trampling damage by herbivores on the vegetation of the Parc National des Volcans, Rwanda. African Journal of Ecology 32(2):
Remis MJ. 1993. Nesting behavior of lowland gorillas in the Dzanga-Sangha Reserve, Central African Republic: Implications for population estimates and
understandings of group dynamics. Tropics 2(4): 245-255.
Schaller G B. 1963. The Mountain Gorilla. Ecology and Behavior. The University of Chicago Press Chicago IL.
Tutin CEG, Fernandez M. 1983. Gorillas feeding on termites in Gabon, West Africa. Journal of Mammalogy 64(3): 530-531.
Tutin CEG, Parnell RJ. 1995. Nest building by lowland gorillas in the Lope Reserve, Gabon: Environmental influences and implications for censusing. International
Journal of Primatology 16(1): 53-76.
Upstill-Goddard R, Salter ME, Mann PJ, Barnes J, Poulsen J, Dinga B, Fiske GJ, Holmes RM. 2017. The riverine source of CH4 and N2O from the Republic of Congo,
western Congo Basin. Biogeosciences 14(9): 2267-2281.
Watts DP. 1989. Ant eating behavior of mountain gorillas. Primates 30(1): 121-125.
Wittiger L, Sunderland-Groves J. 2007. Tool use during display behavior in wild cross river gorillas. American Journal of Primatology 69(11): 1307-1311.
Yamagiwa J, Mwanza N, Yumoto T, Maruhashi T. 1991. Ant eating by eastern lowland gorillas. Primates 32: 247-253.
Copyright (c) 2022 Andrea Pinon, David R Butler
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.