Subspecies composition and founder contribution of the captive U.S. chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) population



Chimpanzees are presently classified into three subspecies: Pan troglodytes verus from west Africa, P.t. troglodytes from central Africa, and P.t. schweinfurthii from east Africa. A fourth subspecies (P.t. vellerosus), from Cameroon and northern Nigeria, has been proposed. These taxonomic designations are based on geographical origins and are reflected in sequence variation in the first hypervariable region (HVR-I) of the mtDNA D-loop. Although advances have been made in our understanding of chimpanzee phylogenetics, little has been known regarding the subspecies composition of captive chimpanzees. We sequenced part of the mtDNA HVR-I region in 218 African-born population founders and performed a phylogenetic analysis with previously characterized African sequences of known provenance to infer subspecies affiliations. Most founders were P.t. verus (95.0%), distantly followed by the troglodytes schweinfurthii clade (4.6%), and a single P.t. vellerosus (0.4%). Pedigree-based estimates of genomic representation in the descendant population revealed that troglodytes schweinfurthii founder representation was reduced in captivity, vellerosus representation increased due to prolific breeding by a single male, and reproductive variance resulted in uneven representation among male P.t.verus founders. No increase in mortality was evident from between-subspecies interbreeding, indicating a lack of outbreeding depression. Knowledge of subspecies and their genomic representation can form the basis for phylogenetically informed genetic management of extant chimpanzees to preserve rare genetic variation for research, conservation, or possible future breeding. Am. J. Primatol. 67:223–241, 2005. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.