Stiftung Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover (TiHo)

Genomic structure of Black lemur populations and a long term conservation program at the Ampasindava Peninsula, north-western Madagascar

Most threats on lemurs are connected to an increasing degree of habitat loss and fragmentation. Alarmingly, one in four lemur species is currently listed as either Endangered or Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red list. Madagascar is a large country and prioritizing conservation zones remains challenging both logistically and with regard to limited budgets. To approach this question, we have combined and applied methods from the fields of conservation genetics and conservation biology. Study was conducted in the Sambirano region, northwestern Madagascar, where we identified Eulemur macaco populations from the remnant natural forest habitat. Three populations were subjected to whole genome study using next generation sequencing techniques with Illumina Hiseq platform. Sequences analyses were based in standard Illumina pipeline. After quality control and sequences cleaning pipeline, Sequencing reads were trimmed from the end of the read until the first base over Q10 and reads shorter than 40 bp were discarded. The Genome Multitool mapper was used to identify all alignments to available sequence reference in Genbank. Genetic diversity, homozygosity and genome characteristics have been evaluated to understand population structure. We have sampled four populations of E. macaco around the Sambirano region and we have been able to deep sequence six samples for the genomic study. Results show the importance of the population around Ampasindava peninsula with high conservation value. Therefore, this area has been set and prioritized as hotspot sites to develop a highly focused community-based conservation strategy for sustainable use of natural resources, starting from an environmental education program in public primary school. For the first phase, we have used locally-based information centers to train teachers how to use a particular scholar kit designed for Ampasindava called Ma Jˆoby. This tool aims at raising awareness of black lemur conservation and their natural habitat. Impact of the program was measured by analysing pupil’s drawing before and after using the kit for few months. As preliminary results, less is known by the pupils about the value of the local biodiversity, in particular the uniqueness of Black lemurs, before the education program starting time.

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