Aye-aye population genomic analyses highlight an important center of endemism in northern Madagascar
Perry, George H.
Jr., Edward E. Louis
Bedoya-Reina, Oscar C.
Burhans, Richard C.
Johnson, Steig E.
Schuster, Stephan C.
Date of Issue2013
We performed a population genomics study of the aye-aye, a highly specialized nocturnal lemur from Madagascar. Aye-ayes have low population densities and extensive range requirements that could make this flagship species particularly susceptible to extinction. Therefore, knowledge of genetic diversity and differentiation among aye-aye populations is critical for conservation planning. Such information may also advance our general understanding of Malagasy biogeography, as aye-ayes have the largest species distribution of any lemur. We generated and analyzed whole-genome sequence data for 12 aye-ayes from three regions of Madagascar (North, West, and East). We found that the North population is genetically distinct, with strong differentiation from other aye-ayes over relatively short geographic distances. For comparison, the average FST value between the North and East aye-aye populations—separated by only 248 km—is over 2.1-times greater than that observed between human Africans and Europeans. This finding is consistent with prior watershed- and climate-based hypotheses of a center of endemism in northern Madagascar. Taken together, these results suggest a strong and long-term biogeographical barrier to gene flow. Thus, the specific attention that should be directed toward preserving large, contiguous aye-aye habitats in northern Madagascar may also benefit the conservation of other distinct taxonomic units. To help facilitate future ecological- and conservation-motivated population genomic analyses by noncomputational biologists, the analytical toolkit used in this study is available on the Galaxy Web site.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
© 2013 The Authors. This paper was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America and is made available as an electronic reprint (preprint) with permission of the authors. The paper can be found at the following official DOI: [http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1211990110]. One print or electronic copy may be made for personal use only. Systematic or multiple reproduction, distribution to multiple locations via electronic or other means, duplication of any material in this paper for a fee or for commercial purposes, or modification of the content of the paper is prohibited and is subject to penalties under law.