Volume 42 Issue 1
Jan.  2021
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Laxman Khanal, Mukesh Kumar Chalise, Peng-Fei Fan, Randall C. Kyes, Xue-Long Jiang. Multilocus phylogeny suggests a distinct species status for the Nepal population of Assam macaques (Macaca assamensis): implications for evolution and conservation. Zoological Research, 2021, 42(1): 3-13. doi: 10.24272/j.issn.2095-8137.2020.279
Citation: Laxman Khanal, Mukesh Kumar Chalise, Peng-Fei Fan, Randall C. Kyes, Xue-Long Jiang. Multilocus phylogeny suggests a distinct species status for the Nepal population of Assam macaques (Macaca assamensis): implications for evolution and conservation. Zoological Research, 2021, 42(1): 3-13. doi: 10.24272/j.issn.2095-8137.2020.279

Multilocus phylogeny suggests a distinct species status for the Nepal population of Assam macaques (Macaca assamensis): implications for evolution and conservation

doi: 10.24272/j.issn.2095-8137.2020.279
Funds:  This study was supported by the Chinese Academy of Sciences-World Academy of Sciences (CAS-TWAS) President’s PhD Fellowship Program to L.K., Second Tibetan Plateau Scientific Expedition and Research Program (2019QZKK0501), and National Key Research and Development Plan (#2017YFC0505202) China. R.C.K. was supported in part by the Office of Research Infrastructure Programs (ORIP) of the National Institutes of Health through Grant Number P51OD010425 to the WaNPRC. L.K. was supported by the Rufford Small Grants (17666-1) of Rufford Foundation, UK partly for fieldworks
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  • Phylogenetic relationships within the sinica-group of macaques based on morphological, behavioral, and molecular characteristics have remained controversial. The Nepal population of Assam macaques (Macaca assamensis) (NPAM), the westernmost population of the species, is morphologically distinct but has never been used in phylogenetic analyses. Here, the phylogenetic relationship of NPAM with other congeners was tested using multiple mitochondrial and Y-chromosomal loci. The divergence times and evolutionary genetic distances among macaques were also estimated. Results revealed two major mitochondrial DNA clades of macaques under the sinica-group: the first clade included M. thibetana, M. sinica, and eastern subspecies of Assam macaque (M. assamensis assamensis); the second clade included M. radiata together with species from the eastern and central Himalaya, namely, M. leucogenys, M. munzala, and NPAM. Among the second-clade species, NPAM was the first to diverge from the other members of the clade around 1.9 million years ago. Our results revealed that NPAM is phylogenetically distinct from the eastern Assam macaques and closer to other species and hence may represent a separate species. Because of its phylogenetic distinctiveness, isolated distribution, and small population size, the Nepal population of sinica-group macaques warrants detailed taxonomic revision and high conservation priority.
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