Donohue: Exploring Interactions Between the Gut Microbiome, Habitat Alteration, and Speciation in a Stable Lemur Hybrid Zone

Grants and Contracts Details


I propose to examine the gut microbiome as a trait driving hybrid speciation. This research will focus on Eulemur rufifrons x E. cinereiceps hybrids endemic to the Andringitra region of southeastern Madagascar. A first step towards understanding these complex dynamics is using behavioral observations to test for sexual selection asserted through mate choice. I expect that these analyses will reveal sharp divides in gut microbiome characteristics of reproductively successful and unsuccessful males, and that females choose to copulate with males harboring high-quality gut microbiomes first. This research is the first known attempt at explicitly testing the role of the gut microbiome in species diversification, and has the potential to reveal symbionts and powerful catalysts of animal evolution. Most importantly, this hybrid zone has been shaped by anthropogenic forces for over 2,000 years, facilitating new transitional habitat for previously allopatric lineages to meet and reproduce. Therefore, this research will provide pivotal insight into how human activities influence species composition in the Holocene.
Effective start/end date6/1/1912/31/21


  • Primate Conservation Incorporated: $5,000.00


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