AJP Featured Articles

Genetic assessment for the endangered Black Lion Tamarin Leontopithecus chrysopygus (Mikan, 1823),Callitrichidae, Primates.

Authors: Paola A. Ayala-Burbano, Lucas Caldano, Pedro Manoel Galetti Junior, Alcides Pissinatti, Mara Cristina Marques, Dominic Wormell, Patrícia Domingues de Freitas.

Leontopithecus chrysopygus, popularly called Black Lion Tamarin (BLT), is an endangered New World monkey that occurs only in the highly fragmented rainforest of São Paulo State in Brazil. Currently, it is estimated that there are approximately one thousand wild individuals, who are living in small groups, and under threat of local extinction. Habitat loss and fragmentation have been impacting wild populations, restricting gene flow, and reducing genetic variation, and consequently their ability to adapt to changing conditions. On the other hand, while captive breeding programs can be an important component of conservation strategies, animals kept in captivity are particularly susceptible to a reduction in genetic diversity because of they are often descended from only a few wild individuals. Subsequent effects of inbreeding across generations also can contribute to loss of fitness in both captive and wild populations. Overall, we analyzed and compared genetic diversity in wild groups and captive black lion tamarins housed in institutions in Brazil and Europe. We found evidence that the captive Brazilian and European black lion tamarins were genetically distinct from each other and from the wild population. Despite this, captive and wild populations have similar levels of genetic diversity. These results can be used to help manage captive and wild populations and avoid the loss of genetic diversity  (for example, by increasing exchanges of highly heterozygous and non-related lion tamarins between institutions),.    Increasingly there will be a need to connect isolated groups  either by habitat restoration, or by interventions such as moving lion tamarins from one population to another and from captivity to the wild.. 


 

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Resilience of experimentally-seeded dietary traditions in wild vervets: evidence from group fissions.

Authors: Erica van de Waal, Carel P. van Schaik, & Andrew Whiten.

The capacity of primates and other animals to sustain behavioral traditions has been rigorously demonstrated through diffusion experiments under controlled laboratory conditions. Such evidence is rarer in the wild, but we show that a behavior experimentally seeded in a majority of individuals within vervet monkey groups may be sustained across several years. Here we report results of two natural fission events in which small splinter groups left a large origin group, that provide novel evidence of the resilience of socially-transmitted group norms of behavior. Before fission, high-ranked females showed strong adherence to a group preference among two food options, originally introduced through a distasteful additive in one option, but no longer present in later tests. Because of monopolization by high-ranked group members, low-ranked females ate more of the formerly distasteful food and so discovered it was now perfectly palatable. Despite this experience, low-ranked females who formed the splinter groups then expressed a striking, 100% bias for the preferred option of their original parent group, a surprising intensity of preference. We interpret this effect as conformity either to the observable preferences of high rankers in the parent group, or to a majority in that group, or both. However, given fissioned individuals’ familiarity with their habitat and the two food types, we question the adequacy of the informational function usually attributed to conformity in animals. We discuss an alternative we call ‘social conformity’: perhaps primates may conform to ‘fit in with the group’ more than to gain information.
 

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