09.12.2016 - 04:52
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Molecular Genetics Laboratory

A genetics laboratory is an integral part of the Primatology department, providing the facilities for genetic investigations of wild primate populations. Genetic data can be combined with information on behavior, group structure or range, or geographic distribution to yield insights into the evolution of the living primates. Genetic analysis can be done at various levels, and the methods used vary depending upon the questions of interest. Some of the topics we address using genetic approaches are:

Kinship and social behavior
Why is it challenging to identify pairs of kin in wild populations? Do kin relationships affect how individuals interact with one another? Are maternal or paternal kin preferred? How do individuals grow to recognize kin?

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Paternity and behavior
In group-living primates, which individuals father the offspring? How does social behavior influence the distribution of paternities? Is inbreeding avoided and if so, how?

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Dispersal and geographic distribution of genetic variation
Do discontinuous habitats hinder dispersal among population fragments? In continuous habitats, does the environment play any role in structuring dispersal movements?

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Evolutionary histories of primate populations
How can data from apes provide comparative insights into human evolution? When did different populations of widespread primates, such as eastern and western gorillas, become separate and was this a gradual or sudden process? How and why do genetic diversity estimates differ between populations or species?

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Censusing and tracking
How many individuals occupy a given area, and how are they distributed into groups? Is the population stable or growing?

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Functional genetic variation
How do individuals or populations differ at functionally relevant genetic loci, as contrasted to neutrally evolving genetic loci?

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