Delimiting species without nuclear monophyly in Madagascar's mouse lemurs.


BACKGROUND: Speciation begins when populations become genetically separated through a substantial reduction in gene flow, and it is at this point that a genetically cohesive set of populations attain the sole property of species: the independent evolution of a population-level lineage. The comprehensive delimitation of species within biodiversity hotspots, regardless of their level of divergence, is important for understanding the factors that drive the diversification of biota and for identifying them as targets for conservation. However, delimiting recently diverged species is challenging due to insufficient time for the differential evolution of characters--including morphological differences, reproductive isolation, and gene tree monophyly--that are typically used as evidence for separately evolving lineages. METHODOLOGY: In this study, we assembled multiple lines of evidence from the analysis of mtDNA and nDNA sequence data for the delimitation of a high diversity of cryptically diverged population-level mouse lemur lineages across the island of Madagascar. Our study uses a multi-faceted approach that applies phylogenetic, population genetic, and genealogical analysis for recognizing lineage diversity and presents the most thoroughly sampled species delimitation of mouse lemur ever performed. CONCLUSIONS: The resolution of a large number of geographically defined clades in the mtDNA gene tree provides strong initial evidence for recognizing a high diversity of population-level lineages in mouse lemurs. We find additional support for lineage recognition in the striking concordance between mtDNA clades and patterns of nuclear population structure. Lineages identified using these two sources of evidence also exhibit patterns of population divergence according to genealogical exclusivity estimates. Mouse lemur lineage diversity is reflected in both a geographically fine-scaled pattern of population divergence within established and geographically widespread taxa, as well as newly resolved patterns of micro-endemism revealed through expanded field sampling into previously poorly and well-sampled regions.





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Publication Info

Weisrock, David W, Rodin M Rasoloarison, Isabella Fiorentino, José M Ralison, Steven M Goodman, Peter M Kappeler and Anne D Yoder (2010). Delimiting species without nuclear monophyly in Madagascar's mouse lemurs. PLoS One, 5(3). p. e9883. 10.1371/journal.pone.0009883 Retrieved from

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Anne Daphne Yoder

Braxton Craven Distinguished Professor of Evolutionary Biology

My work integrates field inventory activities with molecular phylogenetic techniques and geospatial analysis to investigate Madagascar, an area of the world that is biologically complex, poorly understood, and urgently threatened. Madagascar has been designated as one of the most critical geographic priorities for conservation action, retaining less than 10% of the natural habitats that existed before human colonization. It is critical that information be obtained as quickly as possible to document the biota that occurs in the remaining and highly threatened forested areas of western Madagascar, to gain an understanding of the evolutionary processes and associated distributional patterns that have shaped this diversity, and to use this information to help set conservation priorities. Phylogenetic and biogeographic analysis of Malagasy vertebrates, each with unique life-history and dispersal characteristics, are conducted to identify areas of high endemism potentially associated with underlying geological features, and also to test for the role that geographic features have played in generating patterns of vertebrate diversity and distribution. My lab also has a significant focus on capacity-building through the education and training of both American and Malagasy students. Research opportunities for American graduate students are enhanced by the formation of Malagasy/American partnerships.

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