Don Melnick

Thomas Hunt Morgan Professor of Conservation Biology Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology Columbia University


Ph.D. 1981, Yale University



Overview of Research

Don Melnick has general interests in population genetics, molecular systematics, and conservation. Primates, as long-lived, socially complex mammals, offer one of the best opportunities to assess the effects of sociality on population genetic structure. For this reason, he has sought to understand the factors underlying the genetic structures of primate populations. He uses this information to model the dynamics of genetic change, address questions concerning rates of genetic change, and examine the assumptions used to construct molecular phylogenies and date cladogenic events. Dr. Melnick's research has primarily focused on the evolutionary genetic consequences of the extreme female philopatry exhibited by members of the genus Macaca. He has also worked on numerous other Asian, African, and South American primates, and has conducted conservation genetic research on a variety of vertebrates from frogs to elephants.


Brandon-Jones, D., Eudey, A.A., Geissmann, T., Groves, C.P., Melnick, D.J., Morales, J.C., Shekelle, M. and Stewart, C-B. 2004. An Asian Primate Classification. International Journal of Primatology. 25:97-164

Tosi, A.J., Morales, J.C. and Melnick, D.J. 2003. Paternal, maternal, and biparental molecular markers provide unique windows onto the evolutionary history of macaque monkeys. Evolution. 57: 1419-1435.

Evans, B.J., Supriatna, J., Andayani, N., Setiadi, M.I., Cannatella, D.C., and Melnick, D.J. 2003. Monkeys and toads define areas of endemism on Sulawesi. Evolution. 57: 1436-1443

Fernando, P., Vidya, T.N.C., Payne, J., Stuewe, M., Davison, G., Alfred, R.J. Andau, P., Bosi, E., Kilbourn, A., and Melnick, D.J. 2003. DNA analysis indicates that Asian elephants are native to Borneo and are therefore a high priority for conservation. PloS Biology. 1: 110-115.

Tosi, A.J., Disotell, T.R., Morales, J.C., and Melnick, D.J. 2003. Cercopithecine Y-chromosome data provide a test of competing morphological evolutionary hypotheses. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 27: 510-521.

Fernando, P. and Melnick, D.J., 2001. Molecular sexing of eutherian mammals. Molecular Ecology Notes, 1: 350-353.

Melnick, D.J., Morales, J.C. and Honeycutt, R.L. 1999. Conservation genetics: Applying molecular methods to maximize the conservation of taxonomic and genetic diversity. In Nature and Human Society: The Quest for a Sustainable World, pp. 264-275. Eds. Raven, P. and Williams, T. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.

Gonder, M.K., Oates, J.R., Disotell, T.R., Forstner, M.R.J., Morales, J.C., and Melnick, D.J., 1997. A new species of west African chimpanzee? Nature, 388: 337.

Morales, J.C., Andau, P.M., Supriatna, J., Zainuddin, Z.Z., and Melnick, D.J., 1997. Mitochondrial DNA variability and conservation genetics of the Sumatran rhinoceros, Dicerorhinus sumatrensis. Conservation Biology, 11:1-6.

Melnick, D. J., and Hoelzer, G. A., 1996. Genetic consequences of macaque social organization and behavior. In Evolution and Ecology of Macaque Societies. pp. 412-442. Ed. Fa, J. E. and Lindburg, D. G. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Morales, J.C., and D.J. Melnick, 1994. Molecular systematics of the living rhinoceros. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 3:128-134.

Hoelzer, G.A., and D.J. Melnick, 1994. Patterns of speciation and limits to phylogenetic resolution. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 9:104-107.

Melnick, D.J., and G.A. Hoelzer, 1993. What is mtDNA good for in the study of primate evolution? Evolutionary Anthropology, 2:191-199.

Melnick, D.J., G.A. Hoelzer, R. Absher, and M.V. Ashley, 1993. MtDNA diversity in rhesus monkeys reveals overestimates of divergence time and paraphyly with neighboring species. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 10:282-295.

Melnick, D.J., and G.A. Hoelzer, 1992. Differences in male and female macaque dispersal lead to contrasting distributions of nuclear and mitochondrial DNA variation. International Journal of Primatology, 13:379-393.