Genetic population structure of the white sifaka (Propithecus verreauxi verreauxi) at Beza Mahafaly Special Reserve, southwest Madagascar (1992-2001).


Lawler RR, Richard AF, Riley MA.


Gene flow within and between social groups is contingent on behaviourally mediated patterns of mating and dispersal. To understand how these patterns affect the genetic structure of primate populations, long-term data are required. In this study, we analyse 10 years of demographic and genetic data from a wild lemur population (Propithecus verreauxi verreauxi) at Beza Mahafaly Special Reserve, southwest Madagascar. Our goal is to specify how patterns of mating and dispersal determine kinship and genetic diversity among animals in the population. Specifically, we use microsatellite, parentage, and census data to obtain estimates of genetic subdivision (FST), within group homozygosity (FIS), and relatedness (r) within and among social groups in the population. We analyse different classes of individuals (i.e. adults, offspring, males, females) separately in order to discern which classes most strongly influence aspects of population structure. Microsatellite data reveal that, across years, offspring are consistently more heterozygous than expected within social groups (FIS mean = -0.068) while adults show both positive and negative deviations from expected genotypic frequencies within groups (FIS mean = 0.003). Offspring cohorts are more genetically subdivided than adults (FST mean = 0.108 vs. 0.052) and adult females are more genetically subdivided than adult males (FST mean = 0.098 vs. 0.046). As the proportion of females in social groups increases, the proportion of offspring sired by resident males decreases. Offspring are characterized by a heterozygote excess as resident males (vs. nonresident males) sire the majority of offspring within groups. We link these genetic data to patterns of female philopatry, male dispersal, exogamy, and offspring sex-ratio. Overall, these data reveal how mating and dispersal tactics influence the genetic population structure in this species.

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