MtDNA reveals strong genetic differentiation among geographically isolated populations of the golden brown mouse lemur, Microcebus ravelobensis
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- Guschanski, K., Olivieri, G., Funk, S.M. et al. Conserv Genet (2007) 8: 809. doi:10.1007/s10592-006-9228-4
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Microcebus ravelobensis is an endangered nocturnal primate endemic to northwestern Madagascar. This part of the island is subject to extensive human intervention leading to massive habitat destruction and fragmentation. We investigated the degree of genetic differentiation among remaining populations using mitochondrial control region sequences (479–482 bases). Nine populations were sampled from the hypothesized geographic range. The region is composed of three inter-river systems (IRSs). Samples were collected in three areas of continuous forests (CFs) and six isolated forest fragments (IFFs) of different sizes. We identified 27 haplotypes in 114 animals, with CFs and IFFs harbouring 5–6 and 1–3 haplotypes, respectively. All IFFs were significantly differentiated from each other with high ΦST values and sets of unique haplotypes. The rivers constitute significant dispersal barriers with over 82% of the molecular variation being attributed to the divergence among the IRSs. The data suggest a deep and so far unknown split within the rufous mouse lemurs of northwestern Madagascar. The limited data base and the lack of ecological and morphological data do not allow definite taxonomic classification at this stage. However, the results clearly indicate that M.ravelobensis consists of three evolutionary significant units, possibly cryptic species, which warrant urgent and separate conservation efforts.