International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 37, Issue 6, pp 688–702 | Cite as

Population and Conservation Genetics in an Endangered Lemur, Indri indri, Across Three Forest Reserves in Madagascar

  • Schyler O. Nunziata
  • Peter Wallenhorst
  • Meredith A. Barrett
  • Randall E. Junge
  • Anne D. Yoder
  • David W. Weisrock


Population decline and fragmentation often lead to reduced genetic diversity and population differentiation. Habitat destruction throughout Madagascar has caused population decline and extinction of many endemic species. Lemur populations, including those of the largest extant lemur, Indri indri, have been fragmented into remaining forest patches. We assessed the level of genetic diversity in indri populations in three protected reserves by genotyping a total of 43 individuals at 17 microsatellite loci. Genetic diversity in terms of heterozygosity was high in all three reserves, with no differences between reserves. Population structure and F ST analyses revealed Analamazaotra Forest Station and the Torotorofotsy Conservation Area, which are separated by ca. 18 km to be genetically differentiated from each other with some admixture. Betampona Strict Nature Reserve, which is separated from the other reserves by ca. 130 km, exhibited clear population genetic differentiation, with no signs of admixture with the other reserves. Our genetic diversity estimates are similar to those for other Indridae in similar habitats and may reflect past rather than current population processes, given that populations have declined recently. Our results suggest that Betampona may be genetically isolated and that it is important to maintain gene flow between remaining populations to prevent loss of genetic diversity for the future conservation of Indri indri.


Bottleneck Habitat fragmentation Microsatellite 



We thank two anonymous reviewers for their constructive suggestions. We thank Madagascar National Parks (MNP) for permission to conduct this research, the Madagascar Institute for the Conservation of Tropical Ecosystems (MICET) and Madagascar Fauna Group (MFG) for logistical assistance in Madagascar, the Madagascar Biodiversity Project Field Team for field support, and the Duke Lemur Center for planning assistance. We thank Dr. Charles Faulkner (College of Veterinary and Comparative Medicine, Lincoln Memorial University) who has completed much of the parasitological identification over several years. We thank the team at Betampona Strict Nature Reserve, R. Dolch and the Mitsinjo Association, C. Williams, C. Welch, A. Katz, S. Zehr, F. Rasambainarivo, K. Freeman, G. Kett, B. Iambana, A. Junge, A. Greven, T. Rakotonanahary, H. Rafalinirina, and B. Allen for assistance in the field and in preparation. We also thank G. Stillings for help with ArcGIS. This work was supported by the St. Louis Zoo Field Research for Conservation Fund, the Duke University Center for International Studies, the Duke University Graduate School, the Nicholas School of the Environment, the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and the National Science Foundation (DEB-0949532). M. A. Barrett was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholar at the University of California (UC) San Francisco and UC Berkeley; she thanks the program for its financial support.

Supplementary material

10764_2016_9932_MOESM1_ESM.docx (90 kb)
ESM 1 Supporting information with priors used for MSVAR analysis (Table SI), and pairwise F ST 95% confidence interval values calculated from the full data set and a data set that excluded potential null alleles (Table SII) are available online. (DOCX 89 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Schyler O. Nunziata
    • 1
  • Peter Wallenhorst
    • 1
  • Meredith A. Barrett
    • 2
    • 3
  • Randall E. Junge
    • 4
  • Anne D. Yoder
    • 2
  • David W. Weisrock
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of KentuckyLexingtonUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiologyDuke UniversityDurhamUSA
  3. 3.Center for Health & CommunityUniversity of CaliforniaSan FranciscoUSA
  4. 4.Columbus Zoo and AquariumColumbusUSA

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