Genetic variation within and among lion tamarins

L. Forman, D. G. Kleiman, R. M. Bush, J. M. Dietz, J. D. Ballou, L. G. Phillips, A. F. Coimbra-Filho, S. J. O'Brien

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The golden lion tamarin Leontopithecus rosalia rosalia, one of the rarest and most endangered of New World primates, has been the focus of an intensive research and conservation effort for two decades. During that period, managed breeding from 44 founders has brought the captive population to over 400 individuals, a number that equals or exceeds the estimated number of free-ranging golden lion tamarins. The extent of genetic variation among golden lion tamarins was estimated with an electrophoretic survey of 47 allozyme loci from 67 captive and 73 free-ranging individuals. The amount of variation was low, compared to 15 other primate species, with 4% of the loci being polymorphic (P), and with an average heterozygosity H estimate of 0.01 in these callitrichids. Electrophoretic analyses of captive and free-ranging animals (N = 31) of two allopatric morphotypes, Leontopithecus rosalia chrysopygus and L.r. chrysomelas, were similar to the L.r. rosalia findings insofar as they also revealed limited genetic polymorphism. Computation of the Nei-genetic distance measurements showed that the three morphotypes were genetically very similar, although discernible differentiation had occurred at two loci. These data are consistent with the occurrence of recent reproductive isolations of these subspecies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Anthropology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1986
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Anthropology

Cite this

Forman, L., Kleiman, D. G., Bush, R. M., Dietz, J. M., Ballou, J. D., Phillips, L. G., Coimbra-Filho, A. F., & O'Brien, S. J. (1986). Genetic variation within and among lion tamarins. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 71(1), 1-11.