International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 237–256 | Cite as

Disparate Data Sets Resolve Squirrel Monkey (Saimiri) Taxonomy: Implications for Behavioral Ecology and Biomedical Usage

  • Sue Boinski
  • Susan Jacobs Cropp


Squirrel monkeys (Saimiri spp.) are the most commonly used neotropical (platyrrhine) monkeys in biomedical research; however, no consensus exists as to the phylogenetic relationships amongst geographic variants or whether these variants represent species or subspecies. Here we report a strongly supported squirrel monkey phylogeny, congruent across multiple data sets, including new field data and the first molecular (mtDNA) cladogram. These data support species-level classification for the three major groups in this study. Approximately the same amount of molecular divergence exists among Saimiri oerstedii, S. sciureus, and S. boliviensis. The S. sciureus/S. oerstedii ancestor diverged from S. boliviensis and shortly thereafter S. sciureus and S. oerstedii diverged. Until now, lack of a robust taxonomy has hindered exploitation of the massive potential of Saimiri for comparative studies. No other primate genus displays such widely divergent, genetically-based social behaviors. Our taxonomy also provides robust support for previous warnings against the widespread use of hybrid squirrel monkeys as research models.

squirrel monkey capuchin speciation phylogeny research model 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sue Boinski
    • 1
  • Susan Jacobs Cropp
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Anthropology and Division of Comparative MedicineUniversity of FloridaGainesville
  2. 2.Department of Ecology and EvolutionUniversity of ChicagoChicago

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