International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 237–256

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

  • Sue Boinski
  • Susan Jacobs Cropp

DOI: 10.1023/A:1020522519946

Cite this article as:
Boinski, S. & Cropp, S.J. International Journal of Primatology (1999) 20: 237. doi:10.1023/A:1020522519946


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 

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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