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Appears in Collections:Biological and Environmental Sciences Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Effective non-invasive genetic monitoring of multiple wild western gorilla groups
Author(s): Arandjelovic, Mimi
Head, Josephine
Kuhl, Hjalmar
Boesch, Christophe
Robbins, Martha M
Maisels, Fiona
Vigilant, Linda
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Keywords: Population estimate
Issue Date: Jul-2010
Citation: Arandjelovic M, Head J, Kuhl H, Boesch C, Robbins MM, Maisels F & Vigilant L (2010) Effective non-invasive genetic monitoring of multiple wild western gorilla groups, Biological Conservation, 143 (7), pp. 1780-1791.
Abstract: Obtaining reliable population size or abundance estimates of endangered species is critical for their conservation and management. Genotyping non-invasively collected samples is an effective way to gain insights into the number and grouping patterns of rare or elusive animals. In this study we used genetic capture-recapture estimators to obtain a precise estimate of the size of a western gorilla population inhabiting an intensely sampled 101 km2 area in Loango National Park, Gabon. Using 394 putative gorilla samples collected opportunistically over a 3 year period, we identified 83 unique genotypes. We used a rarefaction curve, Bayesian estimator and two maximum-likelihood methods to estimate that between 87 and 107 individuals used the study area between February 2005 and September 2007. The confidence interval surrounding the genetic estimate was smaller than that obtained using traditional ape survey methods. In addition, genetic analysis showed that gorilla and chimpanzee faeces were identified with 98% and 95% accuracy in the field, respectively. Patterns of co-occurrence of individual gorillas suggest that at least 11 gorilla social groups and five lone silverback males lived in the study area and that several individuals transferred between groups during the 3-year study period. When properly designed and implemented as part of a long-term biomonitoring program, genetic capture-recapture should prove an invaluable tool for evaluating, even on a large-scale, the population size and dynamics of apes and other elusive species.
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