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Genetic diversity in ex situ populations of the endangered Leontopithecus chrysomelas and implications for its conservation

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  • Gabriela Guadalupe Aliaga-Samanez
  • Nathalia Bulhões Javarotti
  • Gisele Orecife
  • Karla Chávez-Congrains
  • Alcides Pissinatti
  • Cauê Monticelli
  • Mara Cristina Marques
  • Peter Galbusera
  • Pedro Manoel Galetti
  • Patrícia Domingues de Freitas

Leontopithecus chrysomelas, the Golden-headed Lion Tamarin (GHLT), is an endangered and endemic Neotropical primate from the Atlantic Forest of Brazil that has suffered a reduction of its habitat and population size in the wild. Ex situ populations have been established as a relevant alternative to safeguard the species and retain its genetic diversity and evolutionary potential. This study evaluated the genetic diversity and structure of the two main Brazilian captive populations of GHLT, which have been under human care at the Primatology Center of Rio de Janeiro (CPRJ) and the Zoological Park Foundation of São Paulo (FPZSP). Our results revealed levels of genetic diversity overall comparable to those observed for other Leontopithecus species and for ex situ and in situ populations of GHLT previously studied. Bayesian and principal coordinate analyses showed a moderate differentiation between CPRJ and FPZSP populations. Both populations presented observed heterozygosity values higher than expected heterozygosity values for most of the microsatellites used in this study, suggesting that the management has been efficient in avoiding an increase in homozygosity. However, simulations point to a significant loss of genetic diversity in the next 100 years, mainly in the FPZSP population. Such data are relevant for further decision-making on the metapopulation management of L. chrysomelas in captive conditions and for integrating in situ and ex situ conservation plans.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number8
Pages (from-to)e0288097
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright: © 2023 Aliaga-Samanez et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

    Research areas

  • Animals, Humans, Leontopithecus/genetics, Bayes Theorem, Brazil/epidemiology, Genetic Variation, Endangered Species
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