Species Boundaries within Morphologically Cryptic Galagos: Evidence from Acoustic and Genetic Data

Luca Pozzi, Todd R. DIsotell, Simon K. Bearder, Johan Karlsson, Andrew Perkin, Marco Gamba

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Describing primate biodiversity is one of the main goals in primatology. Species are the fundamental unit of study in phylogeny, behaviour, ecology and conservation. Identifying species boundaries is particularly challenging for nocturnal taxa where only subtle morphological variation is present. Traditionally, vocal signals have been used to identify species within nocturnal primates: species-specific signals often play a critical role in mate recognition, and they can restrict gene flow with other species. However, little research has been conducted to test whether different "acoustic forms" also represent genetically distinct species. Here, we investigate species boundaries between two putative highly cryptic species of Eastern dwarf galagos (Paragalago cocosand P. zanzibaricus). We combined vocal and genetic data: molecular data included the complete mitochondrial cytochrome b gene (1,140 bp) for 50 samples across 11 localities in Kenya and Tanzania, while vocal data comprised 221 vocalisations recorded across 8 localities. Acoustic analyses showed a high level of correct assignation to the putative species (approx. 90%), while genetic analyses identified two separate clades at the mitochondrial level. We conclude that P. cocos and P. zanzibaricus represent two valid cryptic species that probably underwent speciation in the Late Pliocene while fragmented in isolated populations in the eastern forests.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)279-299
    Number of pages21
    JournalFolia Primatologica
    Issue number5
    StatePublished - Aug 1 2019


    • Africa
    • Cryptic species
    • Cytochrome b
    • Mitochondrial DNA
    • Speciation
    • Vocalisation

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
    • Animal Science and Zoology


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