Conservation Genetics

, Volume 15, Issue 6, pp 1339–1355 | Cite as

Assessing the impact of hunting pressure on population structure of Guinea baboons (Papio papio) in Guinea-Bissau

  • M. J. Ferreira da SilvaEmail author
  • R. Godinho
  • C. Casanova
  • T. Minhós
  • R. Sá
  • M. W. Bruford
Research Article


Guinea baboons are heavily hunted for bushmeat consumption in Guinea-Bissau. We investigated whether hunting-driven mortality has affected population structure in this generalist primate using two genetic markers. Sampling was conducted in protected areas separated by anthropogenic landscape features. We predicted significant genetic differentiation between samples and investigated whether genetic discontinuities in the data were concordant with the location of human infrastructures. Genetic diversity was not significantly reduced when compared with a neighbouring population in Senegal and we inferred historically female-biased dispersal and recent contact between localities. Evidence was found for a contact zone between genetically differentiated populations where gene-flow is unidirectional, admixed individuals are at a higher proportion and individuals differentiated for both genetic markers co-exist within the same social units. Genetic discontinuities were, however, unrelated to anthropogenic dispersal barriers and we could not explain the existence of a contact zone by geographic distance, habitat type or the effect of social structure. We propose that hunting practices have affected the population structure by increasing dispersal distances, facilitating contact between previously separated gene pools within social groups. We suggest that hunting-related density sinks found in areas where the quality of the habitat remains adequate could precipitate the immigration of genetically distinct individuals from distant populations. Alternatively, migrants found in protected areas might be avoiding hunters, in locations they may perceive as less disturbed. This study suggests that hunting practices must be considered when investigating genetic patterns in primates and underlines the utility of molecular approaches to detect population perturbations due to bushmeat hunting.


Conservation Threats Primates Genetic Diversity West Africa Landscape Genetics 



The authors are greatly thankful for all support in fieldwork provided by the field assistants M. Soares and M. Turé, the elements of the DARI project (C. Sousa, M. Carmo, A. Barata, J. Sousa, F. Sousa, S. Costa, P. Antunes, J. Carvalho, J. Roque de Pinho, R. Amador and K. Hockings), the park guides and guards of Cantanhez and Cufada Parks and the CHIMBO and AD (Acção para o Desenvolvimento) NGOs. We thank DGFC (Direcção Geral de Florestas e Caça) and IBAP (Instituto da Biodiversidade e ÁreasProtegidas) for helping in the logistics of the study and for permits to sample transport to Portugal. We thank INEP (Instituto Nacional de Estudos e Pesquisa) and GPC (Gabinete de Planificação Costeira) for the GIS maps of Cantanhez and Cufada Parks, to RAMA pharmacy and Cafe au lait for sponsorship and to C. Schwarz, M. Nanqui, R. Dixe, C. Pereira and J. Huet for the support in Bissau. Figure 1 was based in a map financed by Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT), Portugal (PPCDT/ANT/57434/2004). We are grateful to M. Costa and M. Basto, M. Salgado, S. Mondol, E. Wallace and M. Juma for help in the laboratory. We also thank D. Zinner and G. Kopp for helpful discussions and C. Roos for facilitating a molecular protocol for the sex determination. We thank I. Russo and P. Orozco-ter Wengel for help in statistical analyses and for the useful comments to this work and B. Simões for help in design of figures. We thank the BIODESERTS group and two anonymous reviewers for all valuable comments that improved this manuscript. M. Ferreira da Silva worked under a FCT PhD grant SFRH/BD/37417/2007 and is currently a FCT postdoctoral fellow (SFRH/BPD/88496/2012), R. Godinho is supported by a FCT research contract (IF/564/2012) and T. Minhós worked under a FCT postdoctoral grant (SFRH/BPD/87396/2012).


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. J. Ferreira da Silva
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
    Email author
  • R. Godinho
    • 2
  • C. Casanova
    • 3
    • 4
  • T. Minhós
    • 1
    • 3
  • R. Sá
    • 1
    • 5
  • M. W. Bruford
    • 1
  1. 1.Organisms and Environment Division (ONE), School of BiosciencesCardiff UniversityCardiffUnited Kingdom
  2. 2.CIBIO/InBio, Research Center in Biodiversity and Genetic ResourcesUniversity of PortoVairãoPortugal
  3. 3.Population and Conservation GeneticsInstituto Gulbenkian de Ciência (IGC)OeirasPortugal
  4. 4.Centre for Administration and Public Policies (CAPP), School of Social and Political SciencesTechnical University of LisbonLisboaPortugal
  5. 5.Centre for Research in AnthropologyISCTE-IULLisboaPortugal

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