Peter Galbusera

Senior Researcher

Research themes:

  • Biodiversity Conservation
  • Population and conservation genetics / evolutionary biology


Currently I’m a conservation geneticist/ biologist at the Antwerp ZOO Centre for Research and Conservation (CRC) of Antwerp ZOO and Planckendael ZOO, coordinating and collaborating in (applied) molecular genetic projects on captive and wild populations (mainly of the golden-headed lion tamarin). I’m also responsible for the conservation breeding program (worldwide) of the golden-headed lion tamarin, as well as coordinating the Congo peafowl EAZA Ex-situ programmes (EEP) and the Mexican Military Macaw European Studbook (ESB). This work includes networking and outreach to various ‘interest groups’ (zoo professionals, researchers, students, decision makers, conservation managers, zoo visitors,… wider public).

Extra activities

  • Subject editor (Belgian Journal of Zoology and JZAR) and reviewer (many journals).
  • Visiting professor at the University of Antwerp (course of Conservation Genetics).
  • Within the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA), member/research advisor of Callitrichidae TAG (Taxon Advisory Group) and EAZA Population Management Group (EPMAG).
  • Within the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), member of the Conservation Genetics Specialist Group (CGSG) and the Stork, Ibis and Spoonbill Specialist Group

Research Interests

Currently I am focusing my research on the golden-headed lion tamarins (besides white storks and Sulawesi ungulates). This includes investigating the captive population (genetics but also group stability) as well as the wild population (distribution shifts and genetic adaptation related to climatic conditions). Besides applying this research in the management of captive and wild populations, I support a holistic conservation approach that includes planning, communication/outreach and socio-economic aspects, in collaboration with many colleagues.

Brief Biography

After obtaining a PhD in Biology at KU Leuven (Belgium), I worked as a postdoctoral scientific collaborator in various fundamental and applied (population genetics) research projects at the University of Antwerp (UA) for several years. About 20 years ago, this experience allowed me to set up molecular laboratory facilities at Antwerp ZOO and Planckendael ZOO and investigate the genetics of various species, in order to conserve their (genetic) diversity. Currently my focus is switching to policy and science communication activities related to genetic (bio)diversity, in collaboration with the European Action called GBiKE and the CGSG of IUCN. 

Key publications:

Aliaga-Samanez GG, Bulhões Javarotti N, Orecife G, Chávez-Congrains K, Pissinatti A, Monticelli C, Marques MC, Galbusera P, Galetti Jr PM, Domingues de Freitas P (2023) Genetic diversity in ex situ populations of the endangered Leontopithecus chrysomelas and implications for its conservation. PLoS ONE 18(8): e0288097.

Callens T, Galbusera P, Matthysen E et al. (2011) Genetic signature of population fragmentation varies with mobility in seven bird species of a fragmented Kenyan cloud forest. Molecular Ecology, 20, 1829–1844.

Van Coillie S, Galbusera P, Roeder a. D et al. (2008) Molecular paternity determination in captive bonobos and the impact of inbreeding on infant mortality. Animal Conservation, 11, 306–312.

Colli L, Milanesi M, Vajana E, Iamartino D, Bomba L, Puglisi F, Del Corvo M, Nicolazzi E, Ahmed S, Herrera J, Cruz L, Zhang S, Liang A, Hua G, Yang L, Hao X, Zuo F, Lai S-J, Wang S, Liu R, Gong Y, Mokhber M, Shahrbabak H, Mao Y, Guan F, Vlaic A, Vlaic B, Ramunno L, Cosenza G, Ahmad A, Soysal I, Ünal E, Ketudat-Cairns M, Garcia J, Utsunomiya Y, Baruselli P, Amaral ME, Parnpai R, Drummond M, Galbusera P, Burton J, Hoal E, Yusnizar Y, Sumantri C, Moioli B, Valentini A, Stella A, Williams J, Ajmone MP (2018) New insights on water buffalo genomic diversity and post-domestication migration routes from medium density SNP chip data. Frontiers in Genetics, 9, Article 53.

Fienieg E, Galbusera P (2013) The use and integration of molecular DNA information in conservation breeding programmes: a review. Journal of Zoo and Aquarium Research, 1, 44–51.

Frantz L, Rudzinski A, Abang Mansyursyah Surya Nugraha,Evin A, Burton J, Hulme-Beaman A, Linderholm A, Barnett R, Vega R, Irving-Pease E, Haile J, Allen R, Leus K, Shephard J, Hillyer M, Gillemot S,van den Hurk J, Ogle S, Atofanei C, Thomas M, Johansson F, Abdul Haris Mustari, Williams J, Mohamad K, Damayanti CS, Ita Djuwita Wiryadi, Obbles D, Mona S, Day H, Yasin M, Meker S, McGuire JA, Evans BJ, von Rintelen T, Ho SYW, Searle JB, Kitchener AC, Macdonald AA, Shaw DJ, HallR, Galbusera P and Larson G (2018) Synchronous diversification of Sulawesi’s iconic artiodactyls driven by recent geological events. Proceedings B 285: 20172566.

Brett M. Frye, Dakota E. McCoy, Jennifer Kotler, Amanda Embury, Judith M. Burkart, Monika Burns, Simon Eyre, Peter Galbusera, Jacqui Hooper, Arun Idoe, Agustín López Goya, Jennifer Mickelberg, Marcos Peromingo Quesada, Miranda Stevenson, Sara Sullivan, Mark Warneke, Sheila Wojciechowski, Dominic Wormell, David Haig, and Suzette D. Tardif. After short interbirth intervals, captive callitrichine monkeys have higher infant mortality. iScience 25, 103724, 21 January 2022.

Galbusera PHA, Gillemot S (2008) Polymorphic microsatellite markers for the endangered golden-headed lion tamarin, Leontopithecus chrysomelas (Callitrichidae). Conservation Genetics, 9, 731–733.

Galbusera PHA, Gillemot S, Jouk P et al. (2007) Isolation of microsatellite markers for the endangered Knysna seahorse Hippocampus capensis and their use in the detection of a genetic bottleneck. Molecular Ecology Notes, 7, 638–640.

Galbusera P, Githiru M, Lens L, Matthysen E (2004) Genetic equilibrium despite habitat fragmentation in an Afrotropical bird. Molecular ecology, 13, 1409–21.

Galbusera P, Lens L, Schenck T, Waiyaki E, Matthysen E (2000b) Genetic variability and gene flow in the globally, critically-endangered Taita thrush. Conservation Genetics, 1, 45–55.

Hoban S, Arntzen JW, Bertorelle G et al. (2013a) Conservation Genetic Resources for Effective Species Survival (ConGRESS): Bridging the divide between conservation research and practice. Journal for Nature Conservation, 21, 433–437.

Hoban SM, Hauffe HC, Pérez-Espona S et al. (2013c) Bringing genetic diversity to the forefront of conservation policy and management. Conservation Genetics Resources, 5, 593–598.

Sean Hoban, Michael W. Bruford, W. Chris Funk, Peter Galbusera, M. Patrick Griffith, Catherine E Grueber, Myriam Heuertz, Margaret E. Hunter, Christina Hvilsom, Belma Kalamujic Stroil, Francine Kershaw, Colin K. Khoury, Linda Laikre, Margarida Lopes-Fernandes, Anna J MacDonald, Joachim Mergeay, Mariah Meek, Cinnamon Mittan, Tarek A. Mukassabi, David O’Brien, Rob Ogden, Clarisse Palma da Silva, Uma Ramakrishnan, Gernot Segelbacher, Robyn E Shaw, Per Sjögren-Gulve, Nevena Velickovic, Cristiano Vernesi (2021). Global commitments to conserving and monitoring genetic diversity are now necessary and feasible. BioScience, 71, 964–976. DOI: 10.1093/biosci/biab054

Moraes AM, Grativol AD, De Vleeschouwer KM, Ruiz-Miranda CR,Raboy BE, Oliveira LC, Dietz JM, Galbusera PHA (2018) Population genetic structure of an endangered endemic primate (Leontopithecus chrysomelas) in highly fragmented Atlantic Coastal rainforest. Folia Primatologica , 89, 365-381.

Pérez-Espona S, ConGRESS Consortium (2017) Conservation genetics in the European Union – Biases, gaps and future directions. Biological Conservation, 209, 130-136.

Segelbacher, G., Bosse, M., Burger, P., Galbusera, P., Godoy, J., Helsen P., Hvilsom, C., Iacolina, L., Kahric A., Manfrin, C., Nonic, M., Thizy, D., Tsevetkov, I., Velickovic, N., Vila, C., Wisely, S., Buzan, E. (2021) New developments in the field of genomic technologies and their relevance to conservation management. Conservation Genetics 23, 217–242;

Shephard JM, Ogden R, Tryjanowski P, Olsson O, Galbusera P (2013) Is population structure in the European white stork determined by flyway permeability rather than translocation history? Ecology and evolution, 3, 4881–95.

Stanton DWG, Helsen P, Shephard J, Leus K, Penfold L, Hart J, Kümpel N F, Ewen J G, Wang J, Galbusera P, Bruford MW (2014) Distinct and Diverse: Range-Wide Phylogeography Reveals Ancient Lineages and High Genetic Variation in the Endangered Okapi (Okapia johnstoni).  PLOS ONE. 9, 7, e101081.

Stanton DWG, Helsen P, Shephard J, Leus K, Penfold L, Hart J, Kümpel NF, Ewen J G, Wang J, Galbusera P, Bruford MW (2015) Genetic structure of captive and free-ranging okapi (Okapia johnstoni) with implications for management. Conservation Genetics, 16, 1115-1126.