Genetic Analysis of the Indri Reveals No Evidence of Distinct Subspecies
Louis Jr., Edward
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SubjectIndri; nuclear microsatellite markers; Pastorini's fragment; Lemur; Taxonomy; Mitochondrial DNA; Systematics; Madagascar
Subspecies were traditionally defined by identifying gaps between phenotypes across the geographic range of a species, and may represent important units in the development of conservation strategies focused on preserving genetic diversity. Previous taxonomic research proposed that phenotypic variation between scattered Indri indri populations warranted the naming of two distinct subspecies, I. i. indri and I. i. variegatus.We tested these subspecific designations using mitochondrial sequence data generated from the control region or D-loop (569 bp) and a large section (2362 bp) of multiple genes and tRNAs known as Pastorini’s fragment and nuclear microsatellite markers. This study used 114 samples of I. indri from 12 rainforest sites in eastern Madagascar, encompassing the entire range of the species. These genetic samples represent multiple populations from low- and high-elevation forests from both putative subspecies. Molecular analyses of the mitochondrial sequence data did not support the two proposed subspecies. Furthermore, the microsatellite analyses showed no significant differences across the range beyond population level differentiation. This study demonstrates the utility of incorporating multiple lines of evidence in addition to phenotypic traits to define species or subspecies.