BRENNEMANN, R. A., JOHNSON, S. E., BAILEY, C. A. et al. (2011)

Population genetics and abundance of the Endangered grey-headed lemur Eulemur cinereiceps in south-east Madagascar: assessing risks for fragmented and continuous populations.

ORYX 46(2): 298–307. doi:10.1017/S003060531100015


Knowledge of both population size and genetic diversity is critical for assessing extinction risk but few studies include concurrent estimates of these two components of population biology. We conducted an investigation of population density and size, and genetic variation and past demographic events, of the Endangered grey-headed lemur Eulemur cinereiceps in south-east Madagascar. We estimated lemur density using line-transect surveys and used satellite imagery to calculate forest fragment area in three localities. We collected tissue samples from 53 individuals and used 26 polymorphic microsatellite loci to obtain measures of population structure (divergence and diversity) across these localities. We tested the probability of past bottleneck events using three models. Contrary to expectation, there were no significant differences in population density across localities. Genetic diversity decreased, but not significantly, with decreasing habitat area and population size. We found a higher likelihood of past bottleneck events in the fragmented coastal populations. The low population size and prior decline in diversity in coastal patches are consistent with their isolation, anthropogenic disturbance, and exposure to cyclone activity. The similarities in the estimates of density between continuous and fragmented sites may indicate recent population growth in the fragments but these populations nevertheless remain at risk from reduced levels of genetic variation. These patterns should be confirmed with more extensive sampling across the limited range of E. cinereiceps.


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