Title

Audible Communication Comparison of Western Lowland Gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) and Virunga Mountain Gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei)

Document Type

Oral Presentation

Location

SURC 140

Start Date

17-5-2012

End Date

17-5-2012

Abstract

Genetics has revealed that western and eastern gorilla species physically split somewhere between 0.9 and 1.6 million years ago, with a separation of 1,000 km in their present ranges. Variations in communication most likely have developed between these two species over this time period. While gorilla gesturing has been studied, it is complicated and not fully understood, and very little research has been conducted on gorilla vocalizations. The purpose of this study compares audible communication between western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) and Virunga Mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei). Fifty-one western lowland gorillas were observed and recorded at nine different zoos. The dataset of the Virunga Mountain gorilla came from recordings made at Karisoke Research Center, Rwanda. Using Raven and Comparisonics applications, isolated similar audibles of western lowland and Virunga Mountain gorillas were compared in measurements of duration and frequency range correlation. One of seven distinct audible categories revealed significant difference in duration. Overall, the Virunga Mountain gorilla audibles were notably higher in frequency, which could be attributed to recording equipment, ecological factors of the habitat acoustics, and morphology. As a direct result of the bushmeat crisis and poaching, different species of gorilla orphans currently inhabit African sanctuaries. After a separation of a million years, gorilla subspecies live together once again in captive environments. For purposes of possible reintroduction, comparative studies of natural gorilla communication help to not only provide a less stressful environment for incoming gorilla orphans but also expands our understanding of the evolutionary paths of each species.

Faculty Mentor(s)

Katharine Whitcomb

Additional Mentoring Department

English

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May 17th, 12:20 PM May 17th, 12:40 PM

Audible Communication Comparison of Western Lowland Gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) and Virunga Mountain Gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei)

SURC 140

Genetics has revealed that western and eastern gorilla species physically split somewhere between 0.9 and 1.6 million years ago, with a separation of 1,000 km in their present ranges. Variations in communication most likely have developed between these two species over this time period. While gorilla gesturing has been studied, it is complicated and not fully understood, and very little research has been conducted on gorilla vocalizations. The purpose of this study compares audible communication between western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) and Virunga Mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei). Fifty-one western lowland gorillas were observed and recorded at nine different zoos. The dataset of the Virunga Mountain gorilla came from recordings made at Karisoke Research Center, Rwanda. Using Raven and Comparisonics applications, isolated similar audibles of western lowland and Virunga Mountain gorillas were compared in measurements of duration and frequency range correlation. One of seven distinct audible categories revealed significant difference in duration. Overall, the Virunga Mountain gorilla audibles were notably higher in frequency, which could be attributed to recording equipment, ecological factors of the habitat acoustics, and morphology. As a direct result of the bushmeat crisis and poaching, different species of gorilla orphans currently inhabit African sanctuaries. After a separation of a million years, gorilla subspecies live together once again in captive environments. For purposes of possible reintroduction, comparative studies of natural gorilla communication help to not only provide a less stressful environment for incoming gorilla orphans but also expands our understanding of the evolutionary paths of each species.