Abstracts (first author)
A first genetic study of Microcebus tavaratra, a little known mouse lemur from the north of Madagascar
Madagascar is one of the most important Biodiversity Hotspots in the world. Still, many areas are poorly studied, as is the case of Daraina in the north of the island. In 2010, the highly fragmented forests of this region were surveyed, and the presence of several individuals belonging to the mouse lemur genus (Microcebus) was recorded. In the field, it proved difficult to identify the species encountered by using morphometric measurements, and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) was sequenced. Furthermore, seven nuclear loci (microsatellites) were genotyped. Altogether three mtDNA regions (COII, Cyt b and D-loop) were sequenced for 72 Microcebus individuals sampled in three forest fragments (Binara, Solaniampilana and Bekaraoka), in order to determine if all members belonged to the same species (M. tavaratra) as two individuals previously identified in this same region by other researchers. We also wanted to describe the patterns of genetic diversity of the sampled populations and determine if genetic clusters could be identified and potentially associated to specific features of the habitat, such large rivers or roads. The results suggest that all individuals belong to the M. tavaratra species and that high genetic variation at the nuclear level is maintained in all three populations. The same is observed at the mitochondrial level, with the exception of the population from Binara, which surprisingly did not present any genetic diversity across all mtDNA loci. Moreover, no clear clustering could be defined at the nuclear level, possibly due to the limited number of loci. Despite being currently the most geographically widespread study on Microcebus from Daraina, our results suggest that more research should be carried out across the whole region by increasing both the number of samples and loci. Studies like this one are important for the implementation of appropriate and effective conservation plans for threatened species.