Scientists from the German Primate Center (DPZ), the University of Kentucky, the American Duke Lemur Center and the Université d'Antananarivo in Madagascar have described three new species of mouse lemurs. They live in the South and East of Madagascar and increase the number of known mouse lemur species to 24. As little as 20 years ago, only two species of these small, nocturnal primates were known. New genetic methods and expeditions to remote areas have made the new descriptions possible (Molecular Ecology).
Mouse lemurs are small, nocturnal primates, which are only found in Madagascar - and they all look very similar with their brown fur and large eyes. Different species can be distinguished reliably only by means of genetic methods. However, how great the difference between two populations has to be to define it as a new species is a source of continuous discussion.
“By using new, objective methods to assess genetic differences between individuals, we were able to find independent evidence that these three mouse lemurs represent new species," says Peter Kappeler, Head of the Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology Unit at the German Primate Center. In addition, the analysis confirmed the status of the previously described 21 species. "The genetic techniques we used could facilitate species identification, thus also contributing to further new descriptions in other animal groups," says Peter Kappeler.
Only three years ago, the same research groups had described two new mouse lemur species. The closely related 30g Madame Berthe's mouse lemur is the smallest primate in the world. Scientists from the German Primate Center discovered it in 1993. Besides improved analytical methods, expeditions to remote and inaccessible forests contribute to the fact that the diversity of these distant relatives of humans becomes better known.
"To know the exact distribution area of individual species is necessary to identify functioning protected areas," says Peter Kappeler, who has conducted research at the field station of the German Primate Center in Madagascar for more than 20 years. "Furthermore, this new information is an important element towards better understanding how biodiversity on Madagascar arose."
Ganzhorn's mouse lemur (Microcebus ganzhorni) was named after the ecologist Professor Jörg Ganzhorn from Hamburg University, who has been engaged in research and protection of lemurs for decades. It was Ganzhorn who initiated the field research of the German Primate Center in Madagascar in the 1990s. Also in the Southeast of the "Big Island" Microcebus manitatra is to be found, whose name symbolizes the expansion of the range of a subgroup from western Madagascar. The third member, Microcebus boraha, is named after its location on the Island of Sainte Marie (in Malagasy Nosy Boraha).
According to the "Red List" of the IUCN more than 100 known species of lemurs are threatened by extinction and represent the world's most endangered group of mammals. Deforestation and hunting are the main causes of the threat to lemurs in one of the poorest countries of the world.
Scott Hotaling, Mary Foley, Nicolette Lawrence, Jose Bocanegra, Marina Blanco, Rodin Rasoloarison, Peter Kappeler, Meredith Barrett, Anne Yoder and David Weis Rock (2016): Species discovery and validation in a cryptic radiation of endangered primates: coalescent based species delimitation in Madagascar's mouse lemurs. Molecular Ecology, doi:10.1111/mec.13604
Contact and notes for editors
Prof. Dr. Peter Kappeler
Tel: +49 551 3851-376
Dr. Susanne Diederich (Kommunikation)
Tel: +49 551 3851-359 or +49 151 42616141
You can find printable images in our media library. This press release with additional information is also to be found on our website. Please send us copies of all publications.
The German Primate Center (DPZ) in Göttingen, Germany, conducts basic research on and with primates in the areas of infectious diseases, neurosciences and organismic biology. In addition, it operates four field stations abroad and is a competence and reference center for primate research. The DPZ is one of the 88 research and infrastructure institutions of the Leibniz Association in Germany.
Dr. Susanne Diederich | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds
26.05.2017 | Cornell University
How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system
26.05.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung
Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.
Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....
Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.
The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...
24.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
26.05.2017 | Life Sciences
26.05.2017 | Life Sciences
26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy