Conservation Genetics

, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 495–507 | Cite as

Genetic diversity at the edge: comparative assessment of Y-chromosome and autosomal diversity in eastern chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) of Ugalla, Tanzania

  • Deborah L. MooreEmail author
  • Linda Vigilant
Research Article


One of the three categories of biodiversity for conservation priority recommended by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature is genetic diversity. In this study, we estimate the genetic diversity of eastern chimpanzees in the Ugalla region of western Tanzania, which represents the easternmost distribution of the subspecies Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii. We collected 237 fecal samples from a 624 km2 area of the Ugalla region, analyzed the DNA at 12 autosomal loci and identified 113 individuals (69 males and 44 females). We also analyzed 13 Y-chromosome loci in the Ugalla males. While autosomal genetic diversity is within the range of other eastern populations, at 0.27 the gene diversity of the Y-chromosome haplotypes present among 61 Ugalla males is extremely low as compared to other eastern chimpanzee populations. In addition, the most prevalent haplotype, found in 52 of the males, is distributed across the entire surveyed area of 624 km2. This low level of paternally-transmitted genetic diversity among the Ugalla males may be the result of a small or highly related, recent founder population (i.e., genetic drift), exacerbated by the male philopatric structure of chimpanzee communities and by male reproductive skew.


Genetic diversity Y-chromosome Chimpanzees Heterozygosity Male philopatry 



We thank the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI) and the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) for permission to conduct the fieldwork for this study. We are very grateful to Mimi Arandjelovic for her extensive support and assistance throughout the laboratory work and analyses. Comments from Kevin Langergraber substantially improved the manuscript. We thank Fiona Stewart and Alex Piel, and the field assistants at Camp Issa for their invaluable assistance. The samples analyzed for this study could not have been collected without the assistance of Abdallah Moshi and Halufani Mulalelwa; their collaboration is greatly appreciated. We would also like to thank the reviewers of this manuscript, whose thoughtful comments improved this final version. This research was supported through funding by The Margot Marsh Biodiversity Foundation, The Leakey Foundation, The Wenner-Gren Foundation, the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, the Lambda Alpha Anthropology Honor Society, and the Department of Anthropology at the University of Texas at San Antonio.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Texas at San AntonioSan AntonioUSA
  2. 2.Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary AnthropologyLeipzigGermany

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