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Genetic Differences Between Chimpanzee Populations

  1. Matthew W Mitchell,
  2. Mary Katherine Gonder

Published Online: 15 AUG 2014

DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0021748



How to Cite

Mitchell, M. W. and Gonder, M. K. 2014. Genetic Differences Between Chimpanzee Populations. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 AUG 2014


The evolutionary history of chimpanzees has been widely studied by researchers for a number of years. The number, and evolutionary relationship, of chimpanzee subspecies has been disputed for a number of years. In recent years researchers have used genomic data to investigate these questions. A consensus has emerged that chimpanzees are divided into four subspecies ranging across tropical Africa. However, little is known about underlying evolutionary processes that generated these patterns. Two major mechanisms have been proposed to drive the evolutionary diversification of chimpanzees: (1) isolation and subsequent diversification of taxa in Pleistocene Refugia and (2) isolation on opposite banks of riverine barriers. Additionally, the role of intraspecific differentiation and speciation through divergent selection across habitat gradients has been the focus of several recent studies, but this mechanism is relatively understudied in primates.

Key Concepts:

  • There have been recent breakthroughs into understanding the genetic differences between chimpanzee populations.

  • Genomic science has provided a window into the evolutionary history of chimpanzees.

  • Understanding evolutionary processes is vital to understanding chimpanzee evolution.

  • Understanding chimpanzee evolutionary history is of great interest to scientists.

  • Common chimpanzees can be divided into four genetically distinct subspecies.


  • chimpanzee;
  • genetics;
  • subspecies;
  • genome;
  • bonobo;
  • population;
  • Africa