A Pervasive History of Gene Flow in Madagascar’s True Lemurs (Genus Eulemur)

Kathryn M. Everson, Mariah E. Donohue, David W. Weisrock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In recent years, it has become widely accepted that interspecific gene flow is common across the Tree of Life. Questions remain about how species boundaries can be maintained in the face of high levels of gene flow and how phylogeneticists should account for reticulation in their analyses. The true lemurs of Madagascar (genus Eulemur, 12 species) provide a unique opportunity to explore these questions, as they form a recent radiation with at least five active hybrid zones. Here, we present new analyses of a mitochondrial dataset with hundreds of individuals in the genus Eulemur, as well as a nuclear dataset containing hundreds of genetic loci for a small number of individuals. Traditional coalescent-based phylogenetic analyses of both datasets reveal that not all recognized species are monophyletic. Using network-based approaches, we also find that a species tree containing between one and three ancient reticulations is supported by strong evidence. Together, these results suggest that hybridization has been a prominent feature of the genus Eulemur in both the past and present. We also recommend that greater taxonomic attention should be paid to this group so that geographic boundaries and conservation priorities can be better established.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1130
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF); grant numbers: DEB-1355000 and DEB-2207198. K.M.E. was supported by a University Research Postdoctoral Fellowship from the University of Kentucky and a postdoctoral supplement to NSF; grant OIA-1826801.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 by the authors.


  • Eulemur
  • gene flow
  • Madagascar
  • phylogenetics
  • primates
  • systematics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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