Recent trends in genetic research on captive and wild nonhuman primate populations

Sarah Williams‐Blangero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Genetic research on nonhuman primates is flourishing. Population genetic approaches are used to address microevolutionary questions about both wild and captive nonhuman primate populations. Population structure studies of wild groups have traditionally been limited by a lack of accurate pedigree and historical information. Current developments in both statistical and molecular pedigree reconstruction techniques now permit more detailed population structure studies of free‐ranging populations than were previously possible. Many of these techniques are used extensively in defining pedigree structures for captive populations, as the definition is a vital aspect of genetic management. Captive colonies of non‐human primates are managed for both maintenance of genetic variability and avoidance of inbreeding. The close evolutionary relationship between humans and nonhuman primates makes these animals well suited as models for human disease. Accordingly, nonhuman primates are being used in assessing the genetic components of complex phenotypes with increasing frequency. Information that is learned from analyses of data from captive animals can be applied to wild populations and there is great potential for interplay between these research areas. As techniques for genetic analysis of wild populations improve and as data on pedigreed captive nonhuman primate populations accumulate, genetic methods may be applied to an increasing number of traditional interests in primatology such as behavior, morphology, and endocrinology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-96
Number of pages28
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Anthropology
Issue number13 S
StatePublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes


  • Genetic epidemiology
  • Population genetics
  • Population structure
  • Quantitative genetics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Anthropology


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