Behavioral ecology: an important tool to protect threatened gorilla populations.
Damian Caillaud, UC Davis
Conservation measures are often based on survey data and demographic projections, rather than behavior ecology studies. However, animal behavior research often provides key information explaining why some populations are threatened with extinction. For example, aspects of the ranging behavior and social structure of mountain gorillas strongly reduce population growth, even in the absence of feeding competition. In other studies, we found that home range persistence hinders the recovery of low-density gorilla populations. Lastly, the impact of infectious disease on gorilla populations cannot be explained without taking into account gorilla social organization and social behavior. We hope these examples (and others) contribute to make behavioral ecology a more systematic conservation tool.