Comparative Phylogenomics, Biogeography and Conservation of Neotropical Primates
Jessica Lynch Alfaro, UCLA
Neotropical primates represent one of the most successful mammalian radiations in the Neotropics, and all living platyrrhine monkeys in Central and South America stem from a single common ancestor from about 22 Ma. Neotropical primates exhibit extreme morphological and behavioral diversity, from the tiny pygmy marmoset to the ape-like muriqui, and they occupy not only rainforest habitats, but dry forests, savannah-like habitats, and high altitude geography in the Andes. However, about 45% of Neotropical primate taxa are now ‘red listed’ as threatened species by the IUCN, and more information is needed to characterize Neotropical primate biodiversity. Fortunately, studies on the phylogenetic relationships and evolutionary history of Neotropical primates have increased dramatically in recent years using collaborative international efforts at data collection and new techniques in genomics and biogeography. Here I present a comparative perspective of Neotropical primate biogeography, elucidating the geographic barriers, geologic events, and biotic factors most important to shape the primate diversity we see today. I also discuss the impact that phylogenomic and biogeographic studies have had on taxonomy and conservation priorities for this important Neotropical group, and consider what behavioral or life history attributes buffer some primates’ extinction risk in the face of anthropogenic change.
Tuesday, September 27, 2016