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

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

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Julia Fischer

James P Higham

Susan C Alberts

Louise Barrett

Jacinta C Beehner

Thore J Bergman

Alecia J Carter

Anthony Collins

Joël Fagot

Maria Joana Ferreira da Silva

Kurt Hammerschmidt

Peter Henzi

Clifford J Jolly

Sascha Knauf

Gisela H Kopp

Jeffrey Rogers

Christian Roos

Caroline Ross

Robert M Seyfarth

Joan Silk

Noah Snyder-Mackler

Veronika Staedele

Larissa Swedell

Michael L Wilson

Dietmar Zinner


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.


Fischer, J., Higham, J. P., Alberts, S. C., Barrett, L., Beehner, J. C., Bergman, T. J., …Zinner, D. (2019). Insights into the evolution of social systems and species from baboon studies. eLife, 8, Article e50989.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 16, 2019
Online Publication Date Nov 12, 2019
Publication Date Nov 12, 2019
Deposit Date Nov 27, 2019
Publicly Available Date Nov 27, 2019
Journal eLife
Publisher eLife Sciences Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 8
Article Number e50989


Published Journal Article (2.2 Mb)

Publisher Licence URL

Copyright Statement
Copyright Fischer et al. This<br /> article is distributed under the<br /> terms of the Creative Commons<br /> Attribution License, which<br /> permits unrestricted use and<br /> redistribution provided that the<br /> original author and source are<br /> credited.

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