Insights into the evolution of social systems and species from baboon studies

Julia Fischer, James P. Higham, Susan C. Alberts, Louise Barrett, Jacinta C. Beehner, Thore J. Bergman, Alecia J. Carter, Anthony Collins, Joël Fagot, Maria J. Ferreira Da Silva, Kurt Hammerschmidt, Peter Henzi, Clifford Jolly, Sascha Knauf, Gisela H. Kopp, Jeffrey Rogers, Christian Roos, Caroline Ross, Robert M. Seyfarth, Joan SilkNoah Snyder-Mackler, Veronika Städele, Larissa Swedell, Michael L. Wilson, Dietmar Zinner, Sarah Elton

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Baboons, members of the genus Papio, comprise six closely related species distributed throughout sub-Saharan Africa and southwest Arabia. The species exhibit more ecological flexibility and a wider range of social systems than many other primates. This article summarizes our current knowledge of the natural history of baboons and highlights directions for future research. We suggest that baboons can serve as a valuable model for complex evolutionary processes, such as speciation and hybridization. The evolution of baboons has been heavily shaped by climatic changes and population expansion and fragmentation in the African savanna environment, similar to the processes that acted during human evolution. With accumulating long-term data, and new data from previously understudied species, baboons are ideally suited for investigating the links between sociality, health, longevity and reproductive success. To achieve these aims, we propose a closer integration of studies at the proximate level, including functional genomics, with behavioral and ecological studies.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Article numbere50989
    StatePublished - Nov 2019

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Neuroscience
    • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
    • General Immunology and Microbiology


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