Who killed Porthos? Genetic tracking of a gorilla death


Jeffery KJ, Abernethy K, Tutin CEG, Anthony NM & Bruford MW (2007) Who killed Porthos? Genetic tracking of a gorilla death. Integrative Zoology, 2 (2), pp. 111-119.

We describe a novel application of "forensic" genetics to study a key demographic event in a population of wild gorillas. We used microsatellite genotyping and non-invasively collected DNA samples to identify one individual western lowland gorilla as being most likely to have caused the death of another in Lopé National Park, Gabon. Data from relatively few genotypes permitted the identification of female transfer events and the interpretation of individual behavior that was previously impossible using observational methods, thus providing rare behavioral data on an elusive forest-dwelling species. Importantly, this study highlights the need for future studies of dispersal and local population structuring in forest populations, and more accurate population census methods. Genetic studies focusing on individual identification may play a valuable role in future gorilla conservation efforts.

ape; conservation; genetic tracking; non-invasive; microsatellite; western lowland gorilla

Integrative Zoology: Volume 2, Issue 2

Publication date30/06/2007