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Primates of the Caribbean: using historical-era introduction of monkeys in the Lesser Antilles to understand patterns of island evolution

Garrod, B; (2017) Primates of the Caribbean: using historical-era introduction of monkeys in the Lesser Antilles to understand patterns of island evolution. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Across the world, islands were and still are inhabited by unique species, often restricted to their own island and found nowhere else. After their ancestors managed to reach an island from a mainland population and become isolated from this mainland and its ecological restrictions, they often evolved spectacular adaptations. The more extrinsic barriers to gene flow there are and the more distant the populations, the greater the probability of a profound genetic and morphological change. Whereas many other insular mammalian taxa such as proboscideans, rodents and cervids react in readily identifiable trends, primates respond in varied and unpredictable ways. In order to better understand the underlying evolutionary principles behind island speciation, this thesis focuses on the small cercopithecine monkeys taken from western Africa to the Caribbean during the transatlantic slave trade. These Chlorocebus monkeys inhabit Nevis, St Kitts and Barbados but have long been assumed to originate solely from the Senegambia region. This thesis investigates the very early phase associated with island separation, using mitochondrial analysis and 3D geometric morphometric techniques to thoroughly assess whether any changes are present in these populations. An additional assessment is made of the three western African species of Chlorocebus, which is still largely subject to taxonomic discord. The results here show that the existing taxonomic status of African Chlorocebus does not fully describe the whole situation and that changes should be made to resolve this. The molecular results from this thesis show that rather than originating from one Senegambian location, Caribbean Chlorocebus monkeys instead originate from three different African species, across the entire western African coast, meaning their current designation as ‘African green monkeys’ is inaccurate. Additionally, morphological adaptations within these three insular populations are also already apparent, both across the three island groups and between Caribbean and African Chlorocebus.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Primates of the Caribbean: using historical-era introduction of monkeys in the Lesser Antilles to understand patterns of island evolution
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1565317
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