Most genetic surveys of captive and endangered populations are carried out with single gene characters bearing no direct relationship to life history or other features for which genetic variation needs to be maintained. Quantitative genetic estimates of heritable variation for life‐history traits may be a more direct and appropriate measure of genetic variation for some conservation purposes. Furthermore, recent theoretical and empirical results indicate that genetic variation measured on these two levels may not be concordant. We analyzed heterozygosity at 41 allozyme loci and heritability for body weight in captive cotton‐top tamarins (Saguinus oedipus) from the Marmoset Research Center of the Oak Ridge Associated Universities in order to compare these two levels of genetic variation. Cotton‐top tamarins are a highly endangered species native to Colombia. Many animals currently reside in research facilities and zoological parks. A total of 106 animals were used in the isozyme survey, while data on 364 animals contributed to the quantitative genetic study of body weight. We found a very low average heterozygosity (H = 1%) for this colony. Body weight was moderately and significantly heritable (h2 = 35%). This heritability is within the normal range for natural animal populations. The finding of biologically significant levels of heritability in a population with abnormally low allozyme heterozygosity illustrates the point that low levels of allozyme heterozygosity should not be taken as an indication of overall lack of genetic variation in important quantitative characters such as life‐history traits. Genetic variation required for adaptation of species to future environmental challenges can exist despite low levels of enzyme heterozygosity.
|Translated title of the contribution||Quantitative and Molecular Genetic Variation in Captive Cotton‐Top Tamarins (Saguinus oedipus)|
|Number of pages||11|
|State||Published - Mar 1994|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Nature and Landscape Conservation