Surridge AK, Suarez SS, Buchanan-Smith HM & Mundy N (2005) Non-random association of opsin alleles in wild groups of red-bellied tamarins (Saguinus labiatus) and maintenance of the colour vision polymorphism. Biology Letters, 1 (4), pp. 465-468. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2005.0367
The remarkable X-linked colour vision polymorphism observed in many New World primates is thought to be maintained by balancing selection. Behavioural tests support a hypothesis of heterozygote advantage, as heterozygous females (with trichromatic vision) exhibit foraging benefits over homozygous females and males (with dichromatic vision) when detecting ripe fruit on a background of leaves. Whilst most studies to date have examined the functional relevance of polymorphic colour vision in the context of foraging behaviour, alternative hypotheses proposed to explain the polymorphism have remained unexplored. In this study we examine colour vision polymorphism, social group composition and breeding success in wild red-bellied tamarins Saguinus labiatus. We find that the association of males and females within tamarin social groups is non-random with respect to colour vision genotype, with identified mating partners having the greatest allelic diversity. The observed distribution of alleles may be driven by inbreeding avoidance and implies an important new mechanism for maintaining colour vision polymorphism. This study also provides the first preliminary evidence that wild trichromatic females may have increased fitness compared with dichromatic counterparts, as measured by breeding success and longevity.
colour vision; heterozygote advantage; inbreeding avoidance; opsin; polymorphism; tamarin
Biology Letters: Volume 1, Issue 4