Environmental and phylogenetic correlates of Eulemur behavior and ecology (Primates: Lemuridae)
The extent of diversity within closely related taxa may be a function of their shared evolutionary history or of selective forces causing adaptive changes. Examining variation among taxa within a single genus may help to identify flexibility in trait variation because recently diverged populations are more likely living in the environment of adaptation. This study examines correlates of diversity in Eulemur, a genus that has a wide distribution in a variety of habitat types throughout Madagascar. Previously published data were gathered from 11 long-term studies of Eulemur populations. Variables were categorized into multiple datasets: (1) environmental characteristics, (2) social organization, and (3) ecology, which included subsets for ranging behavior, diet, and activity budget. Molecular phylogenies from the literature were used to create the fourth and final dataset, a dissimilarity matrix of evolutionary distance among the 12 species and subspecies. Principal components and cluster analyses were implemented to examine the overall ecological similarity among Eulemur populations and to determine which variables contribute most to the variation among taxa. Partial Mantel tests were conducted to test for correlations among the dataset matrices. The results suggest ecological flexibility for the genus, in particular, populations in similar environments displayed similar activity patterns. In contrast, social organization showed no relationship with environment but was correlated with phylogenetic distance among populations. While Eulemur seems to demonstrate some flexibility for ecological adaptations, characteristics related to group size and sex ratio more closely track phylogeny and thus may be less flexible. © 2006 Springer-Verlag.
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