Population genetic insights into the social organization of Guinea baboons (Papio papio): Evidence for female-biased dispersal


Sex differences in philopatry and dispersal have important consequences on the genetic structure of populations, social groups, and social relationships within groups. Among mammals, male dispersal and female philopatry are most common and closely related taxa typically exhibit similar dispersal patterns. However, among four well‐studied species of baboons, only hamadryas baboons exhibit female dispersal, thus differing from their congenerics, which show female philopatry and close‐knit female social relationships. Until recently, knowledge of the Guinea baboon social system and dispersal pattern remained sparse. Previous observations suggested that the high degree of tolerance observed among male Guinea baboons could be due to kinship. This led us to hypothesize that this species exhibits male philopatry and female dispersal, conforming to the hamadryas pattern. We genotyped 165 individuals from five localities in the Niokolo‐Koba National Park, Senegal, at 14 autosomal microsatellite loci and sequenced a fragment of the mitochondrial hypervariable region I (HVRI) of 55 individuals. We found evidence for higher population structuring in males than in females, as expected if males are the more philopatric sex. A comparison of relatedness between male–male and female–female dyads within and among communities did not yield conclusive results. HVRI diversity within communities was high and did not differ between the sexes, also suggesting female gene flow. Our study is the first comprehensive analysis of the genetic population structure in Guinea baboons and provides evidence for female‐biased dispersal in this species. In conjunction with their multilevel social organization, this finding parallels the observations for human hunter‐gatherers and strengthens baboons as an intriguing model to elucidate the processes that shaped the highly cooperative societies of Homo.

American Journal of Primatology 77: 878-889

The online version of this article contains supplementary material