Genetic Differentiation and Demographic History of the Northern Rufous Mouse Lemur (Microcebus tavaratra) Across a Fragmented Landscape in Northern Madagascar

Gabriele Maria Sgarlata, Jordi Salmona, Isa Aleixo-Pais, Ando Rakotonanahary, Ana Priscila Sousa, Célia Kun-Rodrigues, Tantely Ralantoharijaona, Fabien Jan, Radavison Zaranaina, Emmanuel Rasolondraibe, John Rigobert Zaonarivelo, Nicole Volasoa Andriaholinirina, Lounès Chikhi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Phylogeographic barriers, together with habitat loss and fragmentation, contribute to the evolution of a species’ genetic diversity by limiting gene flow and increasing genetic differentiation among populations. Changes in connectivity can thus affect the genetic diversity of populations, which may influence the evolutionary potential of species and the survival of populations in the long term. We studied the genetic diversity of the little known Northern rufous mouse lemur (Microcebus tavaratra), endemic to Northern Madagascar. We focused on the population of M. tavaratra in the Loky–Manambato region, Northern Madagascar, a region delimited by two permanent rivers and characterized by a mosaic of fragmented forests. We genotyped 148 individuals at three mitochondrial loci (D-loop, cytb, and cox2) in all the major forests of the study region. Our analyses suggest that M. tavaratra holds average genetic diversity when compared to other mouse lemur species, and we identified two to four genetic clusters in the study region, a pattern similar to that observed in another lemur endemic to the region (Propithecus tattersalli). The main cluster involved samples from the two mountain forests in the study region, which were connected until recently. However, the river crossing the study region does not appear to be a strict barrier to gene flow in M. tavaratra. Finally, the inferred demographic history of M. tavaratra suggests no detectable departure from stationarity over the last millennia. Comparisons with codistributed species (P. tattersalli and two endemic rodents, Eliurus spp.) suggest both differences and similarities in the genetic clusters identified (i.e., barriers to species dispersal) and in the inferred demographic history. These comparisons suggest that studies of codistributed species are important to understand the effects of landscape features on species and to reconstruct the history of habitat changes in a region.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-89
Number of pages25
JournalInternational Journal of Primatology
Volume39
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018

Keywords

  • Genetic structure
  • Habitat fragmentation
  • Isolation by distance
  • Population genetics
  • Small mammals

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