Intracommunity relationships, dispersal pattern and paternity success in a wild living community of Bonobos (Pan paniscus) determined from DNA analysis of faecal samples

Ulrike Gerloff, Bianka Hartung, Barbara Fruth, Gottfried Hohmann, Diethard Tautz

Abstract

Differences in social relationships among community members are often explained by differences in genetic relationships. The current techniques of DNA analysis allow explicit testing of such a hypothesis. Here, we have analysed the genetic relationships for a community of wild bonobos (Pan paniscus) using nuclear and mitochondrial DNA markers extracted from faecal samples. Bonobos show an opportunistic and promiscuous mating behaviour, even with mates from outside the community. Nonetheless, we find that most infants were sired by resident males and that two dominant males together attained the highest paternity success. Intriguingly, the latter males are the sons of high-ranking females, suggesting an important influence of mothers on the paternity success of their sons. The molecular data support previous inferences on female dispersal and male philopatry. We find a total of five different mitochondrial haplotypes among 15 adult females, suggesting a frequent migration of females. Moreover, for most adult and subadult males in the group we find a matching mother, while this is not the case for most females, indicating that these leave the community during adolescence. Our study demonstrates that faecal samples can be a useful source for the determination of kinship in a whole community.