Role of recent and old riverine barriers in fine-scale population genetic structure of Geoffroy's tamarin (Saguinus geoffroyi) in the Panama Canal watershed


  • Samuel L. Díaz-Muñoz

    1. Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, University of California, Berkeley, California
    2. Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley, California
    Search for more papers by this author

  • Funded by the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology and Department of Integrative Biology, the American Society of Mammalogists, Sigma Xi and NSF DDIG grant 0608467.

Samuel L. Díaz-Muñoz, Section of Ecology, Behavior and Evolution, 9500 Gilman Drive, Muir Building 3155, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093–0116. Tel: (858) 822-2740; Fax: (858) 534-7108; E-mail:


The role of physical barriers in promoting population divergence and genetic structuring is well known. While it is well established that animals can show genetic structuring at small spatial scales, less well-resolved is how the timing of the appearance of barriers affects population structure. This study uses the Panama Canal watershed as a test of the effects of old and recent riverine barriers in creating population structure in Saguinus geoffroyi, a small cooperatively breeding Neotropical primate. Mitochondrial sequences and microsatellite genotypes from three sampling localities revealed genetic structure across the Chagres River and the Panama Canal, suggesting that both waterways act as barriers to gene flow. F-statistics and exact tests of population differentiation suggest population structure on either side of both riverine barriers. Genetic differentiation across the Canal, however, was less than observed across the Chagres. Accordingly, Bayesian clustering algorithms detected between two and three populations, with localities across the older Chagres River always assigned as distinct populations. While conclusions represent a preliminary assessment of genetic structure of S. geoffroyi, this study adds to the evidence indicating that riverine barriers create genetic structure across a wide variety of taxa in the Panama Canal watershed and highlights the potential of this study area for discerning modern from historical influences on observed patterns of population genetic structure.