Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Integrative analysis of the African bushbuck

This paper used an integrative approach to understand pan-african biodiversity at the genetic and biogeographic level, with generalizable implications for African conservation biology. They started by identifying haplogroup the African bushbuck (Tragelaphus scriptus) by sequencing a 516 bp sequence from the control region of the mitochondrial genome. When they matched the haplogroup diversity with phenotypic data, they found poor correlation between present taxonomic delineations and their own molecular data. They then looked at the relationship between haplotype structure and 58 previously described biogeographic regions. By integrating these data and testing a number of previously proposed models, they came up with 28 ecoregions that are ecologically heterogeneous and defined by genetic similarity of the bushbuck that inhabit them. By targeting these regions, it will be possible to conserve the entirety of bushbuck diversity. The authors posit that targeting these regions will be suitable for conserving most afro-tropical animals, especially generalist species.

Don't YOU want to save this bushbuck baby?!

Loud-call structure and molecular phylogeny agreement in leaf monkeys

A recent study looked at the acoustic structure of loud-calls and molecular phylogeny in surilis (leaf monkeys, Presbytis) of Sumatra and Java. The taxonomy of this group has been disputed over the years, largely due to over 50 described color variants in this genus. Surilis emit loud, acoustic vocalizations that have several functions (defend resources, mate competition, intragroup cohesion, etc.). In order to delineate the phylogeny of this diverse genus, this study combined the results from a previous phylogenetics study (same research group) with their analysis of 100 acoustic vocalizations emitted from 68 male surili individuals across 19 locations. They demonstrated that the structure of acoustic calls reliably maps onto phylogenetic relatedness, thus indicating a tool for identifying species and providing a robust example of integrative taxonomy.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A multidimensional approach for detecting species patterns in Malagasy vertebrates

This paper sets out to make an inventory of the vertebrate species that inhabit Madagascar. Of interest to the primatologist is the section on long-tailed shrew tenrec (Microgale) and mouse lemurs (Microcebus). The number of species in both of these groups has increased substantially in the past few decades. The authors atribute this increase to "a notable increase in museum specimens from previously unsurveyed portions of the island, and to a better understanding of patterns of intra- and inter-population variation." They also credit the ability of molecular methods for uncovering cryptic species in these groups. In the tenrecs, they cite the example of the sympatry to two cryptic species, M. majori and M. longicaudata, which they claim are two species based on both molecular and morphological analyses. The mouse lemurs have quadrupled in species number in the past decade, and according to this paper, are the most specious of the Lemuriformes. This paper highlights the behavioral and morphological mechanisms (auditory and chemosensory) that support the biological (and mate recognition) species concepts that, when paired with the mtDNA data, support the species diversity of the mouse lemur.