Changes in the structure of the baboon hybrid zone in the Awash National Park, Ethiopia



The zone of hybridization between anubis and hamadryas baboons in the Awash National Park, Ethiopia, evidently changed significantly in the early 1970s. When first studied, by Nagel in 1968, the distribution of adult male phenotypes suggested that the hybrid zone was a narrow, static, genetic sink. In contrast, studies during the 1970s found evidence for a broad hybrid zone intergrading with parental populations and probably expanding. A more detailed investigation of data collected in 1973, presented here, shows that between 1968 and 1973 the distribution of phenotypes changed to a more clinal pattern because of the maturation and successful integration of an extensive cohort of hybrid males. We present a provisional model that accounts for the changes in terms of climatic oscillations, with the hybrid zone tending to expand during periods of climatic instability.