Invalidation of taxa within the silvery wooly monkey (Lagothrix lagothricha poeppigii, Atelidae, Primates)

Manuel Ruiz-García, Myreya Pinedo-Castro, Aymara Albino, Jessica Yanina Arias-Vásquez, Armando Castellanos, Joseph Mark Shostell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The systematics of the Humboldt’s wooly monkeys (L. lagothricha; Atelidae) is essential to preserve this Neotropical primate species. Traditionally, four morphological subspecies have been described, which recently have been molecularly confirmed. However, no population genetics studies have been carried out throughout the geographical distribution of one of these subspecies, Lagothrix lagothricha poeppigii. For this reason, we analyzed nine mitochondrial genes of L. l. poeppigii mainly collected from the Ecuadorian and Peruvian Amazon in order to better understand the evolutionary history of this taxon. The mitochondrial genetic diversity levels (haplotype and nucleotide diversity) we estimated are likely the highest yet reported for L. lagothricha. Our results did not detect important genetic structure within L. l. poeppigii. Furthermore, our phylogenetic analyses did not detect any relevant molecular cluster in the area where Groves hypothesized the existence of L. poeppigii castelnaui. Therefore, based on these data, castelnaui is not a valid taxon from a molecular perspective. The most differentiated subpopulation within L. l. poeppigii was from Morona-Santiago province (Ecuador) and had a genetic distance of 0.8–1.2% relative to the other subpopulations studied. However, this genetic distance range is within the variability found within a population. We estimated the mitochondrial temporal diversification within L. l. poeppigii to have occurred during the Pleistocene, 1.8–1.2 million years ago. Similarly, all our analyses detected a strong Pleistocene female population expansion for this taxon. Diverse spatial genetic analyses, perhaps with the exception of Monmonier’s Algorithm, did not detect differentiated taxa within the area analyzed for L. l. poeppigii. These genetics results could be of importance to conservation efforts to preserve this taxon as one unit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-162
Number of pages16
JournalMitochondrial DNA Part A: DNA Mapping, Sequencing, and Analysis
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 18 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Thanks to Dr. Diana Alvarez, Pablo Escobar-Armel, Nicol?s Lichil?n, Luisa Castellanos-Mora, Hugo G?lvez, and Alan Velarde for their help in obtaining Lagothrix samples over the last 20 years. The sampling procedures complied with all the protocols approved by the Ethics Committee of the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana (No. 45684). This research adhered to the stipulations set by the American Society of Primatologists. Many thanks go to the Peruvian Ministry of Environment (Oficio No 5677) and to the PRODUCE (Oficio No 5225) from Peru. Also thanks to the Ministerio del Ambiente (MAE; permission HJK-9788) in Coca (Ecuador) for their role in facilitating the obtainment of the collection permits. Also many thanks to the Brazilian institutions for collaborating with this study (IBAMA protocol number 77933). We also thank the many people of diverse Indian tribes in Peru (Bora, Ocaina, Shipigo-Comibo, Capanahua, Angoteros, Orej?n, Cocama, Kishuarana, and Alamas) and in Ecuador (Kichwa, Huaorani, Shuar, and Achuar).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, © 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Ecuador
  • Lagothrix lagothricha poeppigii
  • Peru
  • Pleistocene
  • mitochondrial genes
  • phylogenetic analyses
  • population expansions
  • spatial structure

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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