Delimiting Species without Nuclear Monophyly in Madagascar's Mouse Lemurs

March 31, 2010

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, , and gene tree monophyly—that are typically used as evidence for separately evolving lineages.

In this study, University of Kentucky researchers assembled multiple lines of evidence from the analysis of and nDNA sequence data for the delimitation of a high diversity of cryptically diverged population-level mouse lineages across the island of Madagascar. The 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.

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. Researchers find additional support for lineage recognition in the striking concordance between mtDNA clades and patterns of nuclear . 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 microendemism revealed through expanded field sampling into previously poorly and well-sampled regions.

Explore further: Genomics study provides insight into the evolution of unique human traits

More information: Weisrock DW, Rasoloarison RM, Fiorentino I, Ralison JM, Goodman SM, et al. (2010) Delimiting Species without Nuclear Monophyly in Madagascar's Mouse Lemurs. PLoS ONE 5(3): e9883. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0009883

Related Stories

Lemur's evolutionary history may shed light on our own

February 25, 2008

After swabbing the cheeks of more than 200 lemurs and related primates to collect their DNA, researchers at the Duke Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy (IGSP) and Duke Lemur Center now have a much clearer picture of their ...

Shape-shifting coral evade identification

February 24, 2009

The evolutionary tendency of corals to alter their skeletal structure makes it difficult to assign them to different species. Researchers writing in the open access journal BMC Evolutionary Biology have used genetic markers ...

Recommended for you

Researchers discover new type of mycovirus

July 29, 2015

Researchers, led by Dr Robert Coutts, Leverhulme Research Fellow from the School of Life and Medical Sciences at the University of Hertfordshire, and Dr Ioly Kotta-Loizou, Research Associate at Imperial College, have discovered ...

Stressed out plants send animal-like signals

July 29, 2015

University of Adelaide research has shown for the first time that, despite not having a nervous system, plants use signals normally associated with animals when they encounter stress.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.