• sex-biased dispersal;
  • colobus;
  • non-invasive genetics;
  • relatedness;
  • Guinea-Bissau


Western black-and-white colobus and Temmink's red colobus are two forest-dependent African primates with similar ecological requirements, often found in sympatry. Their most striking difference lies in their social system: black-and-white colobus live in small groups with mainly male-mediated dispersal but where females can also disperse, whereas red colobus live in larger groups with males described as philopatric. To investigate whether genetic evidence supports the reported patterns of dispersal based on observational data, we examined eight black-and-white and six red colobus social groups from Cantanhez National Park, Guinea-Bissau. Microsatellite markers revealed a lack of sex-biased dispersal for black-and-white colobus. Gene flow, mainly mediated by females, better explained the genetic patterns found in red colobus, with some evidence for less extensive male dispersal. In contrast to the microsatellite data, low mitochondrial diversity for the black-and-white colobus suggests that historical and/or long-range male-mediated gene flow might have been favored. In red colobus, the co-existence of three divergent mitochondrial haplogroups suggests that the Cantanhez population contains a secondary contact zone between divergent lineages that evolved in allopatry. Female-biased dispersal in this species may be a major factor contributing to the colonization by such differentiated mitochondrial lineages in the region. Overall, we find evidence for a spatio-temporal change in the dispersal patterns of the colobus monkeys of Cantanhez, with mitochondrial DNA indicating dispersal by mainly a single sex and microsatellite data suggesting that recently both sexes appear to be dispersing within the population. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.