Inbreeding depression in non-human primates: a historical review of methods used and empirical data.
Offspring born to related parents may show reduced fitness due to inbreeding depression. Although evidence of inbreeding depression has accumulated for a variety of taxa during the past two decades, such analyses remain rare for primate species, probably because of their long generation time. However, inbreeding can have important fitness costs and is likely to shape life-history traits in all living species. As a consequence, selection should have favored inbreeding avoidance via sex-biased dispersal, extra-group paternity, or kin discrimination. In this paper, we review empirical studies on the effects of inbreeding on fitness traits or fitness correlates in primate species. In addition, we report the methods that have been used to detect inbreeding in primate populations, and their development with the improvement of laboratory techniques. We focus particularly on the advantages and disadvantages using microsatellite loci to detect inbreeding. Although the genetic data that are typically available (partial pedigrees, use of microsatellite heterozygosity as an estimate of genomewide inbreeding) tend to impose constraints on analyses, we encourage primatologists to explore the potential effects of inbreeding if they have access to even partial pedigrees or genetic information. Such studies are important because of both the value of basic research in inbreeding depression in the wild and the conservation issues associated with inbreeding, particularly in threatened species, which include more than half of the currently living primate species.
Charpentier, MJE; Widdig, A; Alberts, SC
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