Two New Species of Mouse Lemurs (Cheirogaleidae: Microcebus) from Eastern Madagascar

Abstract

The number of newly discovered Malagasy vertebrate taxa has multiplied in recent years, emphasizing the importance of complete taxon sampling for phylogenetics, biogeography, functional ecology, and conservation biology, especially in such a biodiversity hotspot. In particular, the diversity of extant lemurs is much higher than previously thought, and we have yet to comprehend fully the full extent of lemuriform biodiversity. A recent genetic analysis of mtDNA and nDNA sequence data in Malagasy mouse lemurs revealed the existence of several novel mtDNA clades based on new field sampling. These geographically defined and previously unrecognized mtDNA clades corresponded precisely to patterns of population structure revealed in the analysis of the nDNA data, thus confirming their evolutionary divergence from other mouse lemur clades. Two of these independently evolving lineages correspond to specimens that were collected by us in the Marolambo and Manantantely/Ivorona regions. Here we summarize the genetic evidence and report on the morphometric and external characteristics of these animals, formally describing them as new species. This report thus brings the number of currently recognized and described mouse lemur species to 20. The forests in which these mouse lemurs were discovered have been heavily degraded in the past decade, prompting the classification of one of the new species as Endangered by the IUCN, even before its formal description. As with several other newly described lemur species, immediate field studies and appropriate conservation actions are therefore urgent.

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Acknowledgments

We thank the Malagasy authorities (Committee CAFF/CORE of the Ministry of Water, Forests and Environment), and especially our colleagues at the Département de Biologie Animale, Université d’Antananarivo for their authorization and support of this study. All field procedures adhered to the laws of Madagascar and were approved by the Ministry of Water, Forests and Environment. We thank Joanna Setchell and three anonymous reviewers for excellent comments, Bellarmin Ramahefasoa (Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust Marolambo) for taking the photos depicted in Fig. 3, and H. Lahmann for preparing Fig. 1. This research was funded by a grant of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft to P. M. Kappeler (DFG, KA 1082/8-1&2).

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Correspondence to Peter M. Kappeler.

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Rasoloarison, R.M., Weisrock, D.W., Yoder, A.D. et al. Two New Species of Mouse Lemurs (Cheirogaleidae: Microcebus) from Eastern Madagascar. Int J Primatol 34, 455–469 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10764-013-9672-1

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Keywords

  • Biodiversity
  • Taxonomy
  • Madagascar
  • Microcebus
  • Mouse lemurs