The rhesus macaque as a success story of the Anthropocene

Elife. 2022 Jul 8;11:e78169. doi: 10.7554/eLife.78169.


Of all the non-human primate species studied by researchers, the rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) is likely the most widely used across biological disciplines. Rhesus macaques have thrived during the Anthropocene and now have the largest natural range of any non-human primate. They are highly social, exhibit marked genetic diversity, and display remarkable niche flexibility (which allows them to live in a range of habitats and survive on a variety of diets). These characteristics mean that rhesus macaques are well-suited for understanding the links between sociality, health and fitness, and also for investigating intra-specific variation, adaptation and other topics in evolutionary ecology.

Keywords: comparative genomics; ecology; evolutionary biology; model organism; natural history of model organisms; niche flexibility; primate; rhesus macaque; sociality.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Ecosystem*
  • Macaca mulatta / genetics
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide*